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July 8, 2020

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HK reveals details of new law for police to implement

THE Hong Kong government late on Monday issued the details of Article 43 in the city’s national security law, which outlines the measures that the police force can take to implement the legislation in the city.

The implementation rules came into effect yesterday.

According to the rules, police may be authorized to conduct searches for evidence without a warrant in “exceptional circumstances.” Police may also apply for a warrant that requires a person suspected of violating the national security law to surrender their travel documents, thus restricting them from leaving Hong Kong.

Additionally, under the rules, written notices or restraining orders may be issued to freeze or confiscate property if there are “reasonable grounds” to suspect that the property is related to an offense endangering national security.

Platforms and publishers, as well as Internet service providers, may also be ordered to take down electronic messages published that are “likely to constitute an offense endangering national security or is likely to cause the occurrence of an offense endangering national security.”

Service providers who do not comply with such requests could face fines of up to HK$100,000 (US$12,903) and receive jail terms of six months.

Individuals who post such messages may also be asked to remove the message, or face similar fines and a jail term of one year.

Before the release of the implementation rules on Monday, Facebook, WhatsApp and Telegram said that they would deny law enforcement requests for user data in Hong Kong as they assess the effect of the national security law. The companies did not immediately respond to requests for comment on the new implementation rules.

Under the implementation rules, Hong Kong chief executive Carrie Lam may also authorize police to intercept communications and conduct surveillance to “prevent and detect offenses endangering national security.”

Finally, written notices may also be served to a foreign political organization or China’s Taiwan political organization, or individual agents, to furnish details on their activities related to Hong Kong.

This includes details such as personal particulars, assets, income, and expenditure of the organization in Hong Kong. Failure to comply or providing false or incomplete information can result in a fine of HK$100,000 and imprisonment of six months or two years respectively.

The details were released after the Committee for Safeguarding National Security of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region, chaired by Lam, convened its first meeting on Monday.

A Hong Kong government spokesman said the purpose is to ensure that the objectives of preventing, suppressing and imposing punishment for any acts and activities endangering national security can be achieved.


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