Monday, March 21, 2016

Albert Chen on Hong Kong-China Speed Train Immigration Arrangements (China Daily)

"Laws needed for co-location: Albert Chen"
Joseph Li
China Daily
18 March 2016
Albert Chen Hung-yee, a member of the HKSAR Basic Law Committee, says Hong Kong and the mainland may have to enact laws to implement co-location of immigration facilities at the West Kowloon Terminus of the high-speed rail link.
     Chen, who is also a law professor at the University of Hong Kong, told China Daily in an exclusive interview that the co-location arrangement is convenient to commuters and legally workable. He said people should not worry that the “One Country, Two Systems” principle would be compromised, as the opposition camp claimed. Similar co-location arrangements are in force in foreign countries - and also at Shenzhen Bay Control Point between Hong Kong and Shenzhen. Nobody opposed the Shenzhen Bay model in 2006, Chen added.
    He said the opposition should not bundle the HK$19.6 billion supplementary funding for construction of Guangzhou-Shenzhen-Hong Kong Express Rail Link with the co-location issue, as these two issues could be dealt with separately. The additional funding was approved by the Legislative Council Finance Committee last week.
     Recently in Beijing, Rao Geping, a mainland member of the Basic Law Committee, said that to implement co-location, Hong Kong and mainland authorities needed to reach an agreement, which could be endorsed by the Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress - the country’s highest legislature. Rao also said there was no need to include more national laws in Annex III of the Basic Law. The annex stipulates which national laws are applicable to Hong Kong.
     Referring to Rao’s proposal, Chen said it could not solve the problem completely. He said it was necessary for Hong Kong to enact a law, or for both the SAR and the mainland to enact laws, to implement co-location of facilities in Hong Kong.
     “It is (safer) to make laws in both places because the Hong Kong legislation alone cannot decide if local courts have jurisdiction over the mainland officers performing duties in Hong Kong,” Chen said.
    He said that under Hong Kong legislation, the powers of mainland officers performing immigration, customs and quarantine duties in designated areas of the West Kowloon Terminus would be specified.
     The officers should not have the power of arrest in Hong Kong although they can repatriate persons who are refused entry into the city. In case those persons apply for habeas corpus, Hong Kong courts shall have the power to accept or reject the application, Chen added.
      At the same time, a mainland law will be enacted to spell out which types of conduct of the mainland officers are within the jurisdiction of courts in Hong Kong and this law shall be incorporated into Annex III of the Basic Law. That will be similar to the Garrison Law that applies to the People’s Liberation Army Hong Kong Garrison.
     Chen said: “If the powers of the mainland officers performing duties in Hong Kong are clearly defined and limited by law, it will make Hong Kong residents feel more comfortable.
     “Yet those who oppose the Express Rail Link and co-location will oppose whatever form of co-location system,” he added... Click here to read the full article.

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