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Home >> China
UPDATED: 16:16, August 09, 2006
Covert surveillance panel formed in HK
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Hong Kong Chief Executive Donald Tsang on Wednesday appointed Justice Woo Kwok-hing as Commissioner of Interception of Communications

Surveillance, and Justices Pang Kin-kee, Suffiad Azizul Rahman and Andrew Chung as panel judges.

Justice Pang will also succeed Justice Woo as Electoral Affairs Commission Chairman.

Under the newly enacted Interception of Communications and Surveillance Ordinance which becomes effective as of Wednesday, three to six panel judges must consider applications for authorizations of interception and Type 1 surveillance and for device-retrieval warrants.

The new ordinance offers a comprehensive statutory framework for regulating the carrying out of interception and covert surveillance by law-enforcement departments.

"It is a fine example of striking a balance between protecting the rights of the community to law and order and the privacy rights of the individual. The Government is committed to ensuring its smooth implementation," Tsang said.

The commissioner performs the role of an independent oversight authority to ensure the law-enforcement departments' compliance with the law's requirements.

Tsang said the three Court of First Instance' judges are senior judges with a wealth of experience while Justice Woo, who is the Court of Appeal's vice-president, is highly experienced and has made a significant contribution to public service, particularly in ensuring that public elections in Hong Kong are open, fair and honest.

Justice Woo said his new job as the Commissioner on Interception of Communications

Surveillance, with its important duties, is most challenging.

"I am deeply conscious of the trust reposed in me to ensure that all interception and surveillance activities to be employed by law-enforcement agencies must be in accordance with the law and will not be unjustifiably undertaken. As a fellow citizen, I well appreciate the rights cherished by each individual in Hong Kong against intrusion by any such activities and the significance of protection of such rights.

"I am resigning from my post as the Chairman of the Electoral Affairs Commission on the date that my new appointment takes effect so as to devote my full attention to the new job and I will perform my functions to the best of my abilities."

The appointment of the panel judges takes immediate effect.

To allow Justice Woo to complete hearing the cases already assigned to him in August, the Commissioner's appointment will take effect from Aug. 17. Their term of appointments is three years.

Meanwhile, Justice Pang has been named as Electoral Affairs Commission Chairman for three years from Aug. 17 to succeed the incumbent chairman Justice Woo. Justice Woo's term was set to expire on Sept. 28, but he has tendered resignation to the Chief Executive with effect from Aug. 17 to focus on his new post.

Source: Xinhua


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