Hong Kong ‘needs law against upskirting’ after Department of Justice forced to suspend prosecution of smartphone crimes
Law Society’s call comes as it was revealed the Department of Justice forced to suspend prosecution of smartphone-related crimes after High Court ruled a widely used charge was being wrongly applied
Hong Kong’s solicitors’ body has called for a law to punish upskirting as it was revealed such acts are not considered a sex crime and are charged under different offences.
The Law Society’s call was echoed by women’s organisations which said such a law would be “timely” after the Post exclusively revealed the Department of Justice had been forced to suspend the prosecution of smartphone-related crimes after the High Court ruled a widely used charge of “obtaining access to a computer for criminal or dishonest gain” was being wrongly applied.
Hong Kong does not have a specific law punishing upskirting, the act of taking a photograph up someone’s skirt without their permission, and those who commit the act are not placed on the Sexual Conviction Record Check.
In a paper to the Law Reform Commission, the society said the crime of voyeurism had been amended in Scotland, with England soon to follow suit, to include operating or recording under clothing with the intent of viewing private parts.
Linda Wong Sau-yung, executive director of the Association Concerning Sexual Violence Against Women said it was timely to revisit the possibility of a dedicated law.
“The rise of mobile phones has been fast and the law has struggled to keep up,” Wong said.
“We don’t have a specific law against upskirting, but courts have previously stated it is as serious as indecent assault.
“It is time society progresses and makes the offence clear.”
Separately, while the justice department remained tight-lipped over whether it would suspend the overused charge of obtaining access to a computer for criminal or dishonest gain, a prosecution on Friday filed to adjourn the case of Lee Wing-pui, who had pleaded guilty to three counts of the offence, until December.
The prosecution told West Kowloon Magistrates’ Court it had to study the High Court ruling and agreed to bail.
A police source said the court ruling would not prevent measures against upskirting as officers could still arrest suspects for various offences, depending on the circumstances.
“We could arrest suspects for loitering, disorderly conduct in a public place or outraging public decency, depending how the suspected crime was exposed and whether the victims were known,” the source said.
“We used to consider arresting culprits for obtaining access to a computer if we were uncertain about the location or time of the suspected crime. But I am sure the Department of Justice will find a way, even it is forced to suspend the charge.”
The source said the force had circulated an internal guideline on Thursday and reminded all officers to review all cases related to “obtaining access to a computer with dishonest gain”.