郭榮鏗提出私人條例草案 打擊人口販運及相關罪行

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立法會(法律界)郭榮鏗議員、何珮芝律師及馬亞山大律師(Azan Marwah)合作草擬《現代奴役草案2017》(私人草案),期望透過訂立本地法律打擊人口販運,私人草案於今日(6月5日)提交立法會保安事務委員會進行討論。

《現代奴役條例草案2017》參考了英國政府的《現代奴役法案2015》,透過修訂《刑事罪行條例》(第200章),增設人口販運為刑事罪行,當中包括禁止任何形式的奴隸,即人口販運、強迫勞動、奴役、強迫婚姻以及性旅遊。草擬人同時建議成立獨立的反奴役委員會,以更有效地預防、偵察、調查和檢控奴役和人口販運的罪行,並為人口販運的受害者提供更佳的支援。

事實上,香港已連續第二年被美國國務院「人口販賣狀況報告」列入第二級監察名單,與利比里亞、巴基斯坦、盧旺達和津巴布韋並列。郭榮鏗議員指出,現時本港並無覆蓋所有形式的人口販運的法律框架,訂立本地法律打擊人口販運實在刻不容緩。

何珮芝律師強調,人口販運是全球性的問題,幾乎所有亞洲地區(除北韓、不丹、馬爾代夫與香港)都有訂立人口販運的特定法例。她指制訂專門法例有三大原因:(一)現時「零碎」的法例有漏洞,未能涵蓋所有形式的人口販運,例如強迫勞動和強迫婚姻;(二)現時法例的罰則過輕,未能反映人口販運的嚴重性或起阻嚇作用,必須制訂較重罰則的法例;(三)私人草案給予警察和其他執法人員足夠的調查及檢控權力。

馬亞山大律師進一步說明法案具體內容,包括在《刑事罪行條例》新增條文,以設立「奴役、奴工和強迫或強制勞工」的罪行;擴大人口販運的定義,以涵蓋於香港境內發生的所有形式的人口販運活動,使其更貼近國際法;新增「為進行人口販運而進行的犯罪行為」的罪行;針對「強迫婚姻」有關的罪行(而此罪行現在並不受《婚姻條例》覆蓋);及訂立與性旅遊相關的若干罪行。

此外,根據私人草案,執法人員如遇上可能將受到人口販運的受害人,或人口販子,可向法庭申請禁令限制他們出境或進行與人口販運有關的活動。而私人草案也為人口販運受害者提供免責辯護(觸犯特定嚴重罪行除外),以鼓勵他們求助及指證犯罪份子,除非他們犯下了一些特定的嚴重罪行。


幾個協助人口販運受害者的關注團體均表示支持私人草案。其中,Liberty Asia代表Archana Kotecha指,受害人在不同行業工作,包括建造業、家庭工作、性工作等。他們認為,法案提供具體保障措施,也加入與人口販運有關的反洗黑錢機制,為建立以受害人為中心的制度奠下重要的基石。

STOP.項目經理陳苒婷則強調,受害者不只有外地人,也有香港人深受其害。另外,社會需要有關人口販運的基本數據和最新統計。


職工盟秘書長李卓人也指出,很多印尼、菲律賓和中國內地的外勞被迫負債工作,國際移民組織的數據顯示,分別近七成和八成的受害人工作時間過長和被扣薪金。因此,有需要立法解決問題。

在立法會保安事務委員會會議中,保安局局長李家超承認,現時的確存在人口販運相關的罪行,但認為現時有足夠法例回應。郭榮鏗與保安事務委員會委員梁繼昌均對此回應表示失望。

梁繼昌指出,國際上最先進的經濟體系均已立法禁止人口販運及強制勞工,並要求商業機構將供應鏈透明化以杜絕人口販運;亞洲其他地區大多已經立法,包括澳門早於1997年通過法例。會上議員亦同意人口販運是跨國罪行,必須靠各國採取行動才有效打撃。郭榮鏗議員也強調立法打撃人口販運是國際大勢所趨,而香港作為國際金融中心、國際交通樞紐,有責任亦有必要立法打撃人口販運。現時,即使發現不法份子存入人口販運的收益,在沒有涉及本港較嚴重的罪行時,無法扣押或沒收,變相縱容人口販子利用香港作為基地。郭議員重申,現時法例未能打擊整個人口販運系統,如洗黑錢活動,政府必須採取行動,堵塞法律漏洞。

Legislative Councillor (Legal) Hon. Dennis Kwok, solicitor Patricia Ho, barrister Azan Marwah co-drafted the Modern Slavery Bill 2017 to criminalise all forms of human trafficking in Hong Kong. The Bill has been tabled at the Panel on Security of the Legislative Council for discussion today (5th June).

The Bill is modelled after the Modern Slavery Act 2015 of the United Kingdom and it proposes to criminalise all forms of human trafficking, including servitude, slavery, forced marriage, and sex tourism, by amending the Crimes Ordinance (Cap. 200). Bill drafters also propose to set up an Independent Anti-slavery Commission to enhance and promote measures to combat and prevent slavery and human trafficking, and to provide support and assistance to the victims.

Hong Kong has been placed on Tier 2 Watchlist of the Trafficking in Persons Report by the United States Department of State for two consecutive years, along with Liberia, Pakistan, Rwanda, and Zimbabwe. Hon. Dennis Kwok stated that Hong Kong’s existing legislative framework fails to cover all forms of human trafficking, therefore a comprehensive legislation is urgently needed.

Ms Patricia Ho emphasised that human trafficking is a global issue. Almost all the Asian regions (except North Korea, Bhutan, Maldives, and Hong Kong) have implemented their own domestic legislation on human trafficking. There are 3 reasons to make specific laws: Firstly, the Bill can plug the loopholes of the existing laws, which fail to cover all forms of human trafficking, such as forced labour and forced marriage. Secondly, the current penalties for related crimes of human trafficking are too lenient. The Bill proposes crimes and penalties that will reflect the severity of the crimes and to impose a deterrent effect. Thirdly, the Bill will provide law enforcement with the necessary powers to investigate the crimes and to prosecute.

Mr Azan Marwah introduced the several new offences the Bill create. The first is the offence of “slavery, servitude and forced or compulsory labour”. Second, the definition of human trafficking is expanded to cover trafficking within the boundary of Hong Kong, bringing the Hong Kong law in line with international law. Third, the offence of “Committing an Offence with Intent to Commit the Offence of Human Trafficking”. Fourth, criminalise “forced marriage”, which is currently not a crime under the Marriage Ordinance. The last new offence is “sex tourism”.

Besides, the Bill provides that a law enforcement agent can apply to the court for an order to prevent a person from committing a conduct related to human trafficking and forced labour. It can be used to protect a victim from being trafficked too. The Bill also provides that victims of slavery and trafficking may raise defence for criminal conduct connected to their slavery or trafficking except in the context of certain serious offences. It will encourage victims to seek help and to testify against perpectrators.

The Civil Society Anti-Human Trafficking Task Force in Hong Kong expressed their support for the Bill through their representatives. Archana Kotecha of Liberty Asia stated that forced labours exist in various sectors, including construction, domestic work, and sexual service. According to Ms Kotecha, the Bill provides specific protective measures and acknowledges the need of improving the anti-money laundering system to combat human trafficking. It also makes a significant step that Hong Kong has started in building a “victim-centred architecture”.

Tina Chan of STOP. shared some sex trafficking cases about Thai and local girls. They emphasised that locals can fall victims to human trafficking too. She called for the Governemnt to disclose data and updated statistics of human trafficking in Hong Kong.

Lee Cheuk-yan of HKCTU said they received cases of Indonesians, Philippinos and Mainlanders working in Hong Kong under debt bondage. International Organization for Migration’s statistics demonstrate the seriousness of the situation, showing a strong need for stronger legislation.

In the meeting of the Panel on Security, Secretary for Security, Mr John Lee Ka-chiu, claimed that the existing laws are sufficient to combat human trafficking. Dennis Kwok and Kenneth Leung express regret to his response.

Kenneth Leung stated that advanced economies have already legislated against human trafficking and forced labour, and have measures to enhance supply chains transparency in place. Most Asia regions have relevant laws as well, including Macau SAR which passed a law in 1997. Members attending the meeting agree that human trafficking is a transnational crime and can only be eliminated effectively with international cooperation. Dennis Kwok stresses that combatting human trafficking by legislation is a global trend, and Hong Kong as an international financial centre and international transport hub has a duty to do more. Currently, even if illicit proceeds of human trafficking is discovered in Hong Kong, if it does not involve existing indictable crimes, authorities are unable to seize or freeze those assets. It is condoning traffickers to use Hong Kong as a base of human trafficking. Dennis Kwok stresses that the current laws fail to combat activities of human trafficking, including laundering proceeds from human trafficking; it is necessary that the Government take prompt action to plug the holes.

 

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