Criminal justice system development

The 5th Criminal Law Conference, jointly organized by the Department of Justice, the Law Society of Hong Kong and the Hong Kong Bar Association, has just concluded another successful run. The conference was attended by some 200 local legal practitioners and a number of representatives from four ASEAN jurisdictions. I was pleased to welcome two distinguished guest speakers – Lady Justice Hallett, Vice-President of the Criminal Division of the Court of Appeal of England and Wales; and Ms Julie Read, Chief Executive and Director of the Serious Fraud Office of New Zealand.

Together with our invited panelists, Lady Justice Hallett and Ms Read shared with us their rich experience and insights on the four themes of this year’s conference, namely: cybercrime, money laundering, trafficking in persons and sexual offences. I believe participants benefitted from the candid and in-depth discussions.

We particularly valued the opportunity for international exchange and co-operation. With the advent of technologies, the world is shrinking with increased flows of people, goods, information and capital. As an international financial centre and a highly connected city, Hong Kong’s airport and container port are some of the busiest in the world. These have of course brought a lot of business opportunities to Hong Kong. Yet, they are also exposing us to the risks of cross-border crimes. That is why all four themes at this year’s Conference are pressing issues, and they can only be tackled through proactive enforcement and judicial co-operation without geographical limitations.

Hong Kong has always been an active and responsible player in the international fight against crime. Under the principle of "one country, two systems", Hong Kong is allowed to establish our own regime of reciprocal juridical assistance with other jurisdictions. Such a framework should be workable, provide the appropriate safeguards for the fugitive offenders, and importantly be applicable to all the jurisdictions in the world. I sincerely hope that we are now moving in this direction.

June 7, 2019