The Prosecution Week was first introduced on 7 July 2012 as an initiative to reach out to the public in promoting the transparency of the work of the Division and increasing the public’s awareness of the rule of law in the HKSAR. A variety of activities were held which included seminars, guided visits to the Department and the Hong Kong Jockey Club Drug InfoCentre, school talks, meetings with community groups such as the Boy Scouts and the Junior Police Call, court visits, mock trials and quiz competitions. Riding on the success of this initiative, Prosecution Weeks 2013 and 2014 with the respective themes of “ROLE - Rule of Law Enforced” and “Prosecutions: Fearless, Accountable, Impartial and Robust (FAIR)” were held from 21 to 28 June 2013 and from 24 to 30 June 2014 respectively. As in the first year, during the week of the event, participants were guided by Public Prosecutors to visit the Hong Kong Jockey Club Drug InfoCentre, the High Court and the District Court and were briefed on the criminal justice system of the HKSAR to enhance their knowledge and understanding of the rule of law. In 2014, a keen response was received from a total of 30 secondary schools which enrolled for this activity. This is the largest number of responses in the three years since Prosecutions Week was first launched.
The Criminal Law Conference, held on 17 November 2012, was the first of its kind organised by the Division. The conference theme was “Reforming the Criminal Justice System of Hong Kong”. It aimed at bringing together experienced and dedicated legal practitioners to reflect on the existing criminal justice system in the HKSAR and to study current developments in the realm of the criminal law in other common law jurisdictions. Over 200 participants attended the conference and they actively exchanged views and shared thoughts to explore possible reforms in all aspects of our criminal justice system. The Right Honourable Sir Anthony Hooper, formerly a Lord Justice of Appeal of the Court of Appeal of England and Wales and currently an editor of Blackstone’s Criminal Practice; Professor David Ormerod, the English Law Commissioner for Criminal Law and Evidence; and Justice Susan Glazebrook of the Supreme Court of New Zealand, were amongst a group of distinguished speakers, all of whom were drawn from the Judiciary, private practitioners and academics in the HKSAR and overseas.
A conference entitled “The Debates: Criminal Justice Reform”, held on 2 November 2013, was jointly organised by the Division, the Hong Kong Bar Association and the Law Society of Hong Kong. It was a sequel to the Criminal Law Conference 2012. Taking further on the insightful and thought-provoking exchanges in the preceding conference, potential areas for reform were identified for indepth discussion. At the conference, these topics were re-visited by experienced criminal advocates in the form of debates covering four motions, namely the offence of money laundering, disclosure by the defence in criminal proceedings, legal professional privilege and guidelines and tariffs in sentencing. The debates were adjudicated by the Honourable Justice Mark Weinberg of the Court of Appeal, Supreme Court of Victoria, Australia; and the Right Honourable Sir Anthony Hooper. Over 200 participants attended the conference.
The then Director of Public Prosecutions, Mr Kevin Zervos, SC (centre), and deputy directors attending HOPAC 2013
The Division hosted the 12th Heads of Prosecuting Agencies Conference (HOPAC) which was held from 29 to 31 May 2013. HOPAC is a biennial conference aimed at giving the heads of prosecuting agencies of selected common law and related jurisdictions an opportunity to meet and discuss matters of general principle, contemporary significance and practical importance. The theme of HOPAC 2013 was “Challenges to a modern prosecution service: moving with the times”. Over 40 heads of prosecution or their representatives attended the conference to discuss current trends and issues as well as challenges faced by modern prosecution services in both the international and domestic context.
In April 2014, the Division launched the Meet the Community programme. It is a programme which runs through the year. The idea is to send prosecutors out to interested schools and community organisations in all areas of Hong Kong. They give talks to students and members of the public on important legal topics relevant to the criminal justice system. The topics include the rule of law, the role of prosecutors, drug abuse, cyber bullying, juvenile crimes, sexual offences, white collar crimes and triad activities, etc. All participating students and other audiences find these topics interesting and useful. The discussions also help them identify and steer away from crimes. In this way, the public benefit from the programme by having a better understanding of the criminal justice system, upon which the continuous maintenance of the rule of law hinges.
In September 2013, the Division released the Prosecution Code which replaces the Statement of Prosecution Policy and Practice - Code for Prosecutors published in 2009. The Prosecution Code substantially revises the previous statement, modernising it in terms of substance, presentation as well as language. It contains a set of statements and instructions to guide prosecutors in conducting prosecutions. It is made available to Public Prosecutors, Court Prosecutors, Departmental Prosecutors and lawyers who prosecute on fiat. The public can also have access to the Prosecution Code through the Department‘s homepage.
To foster links and enhance co-operation with prosecution offices in other jurisdictions, an attachment programme has been put in place. Since the implementation of the programme in November 2012, prosecutors from the Attorney-General’s Chambers of Singapore; the Justice Department of Brunei; the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions, Republic of Mauritius; and the Office of the Attorney General of Mongolia were on attachment to the Division. During the stay of these visiting prosecutors, they were exposed to a wide range of work and duties undertaken by Public Prosecutors and were invited to attend various levels of court to observe criminal proceedings in the HKSAR.
In response to the significant increase in cybercrimes in recent years, the Division formed a Cybercrime Section in August 2012. The section is responsible for providing expert legal advice on cybercrime, preventing technology crime and conducting related prosecutions. It also carries out research and training to prosecutors to deal with cases involving cybercrime. Counsel in the section co-ordinate legal actions within the HKSAR and promote co-operation on an international level.