Hong Kong government to review car plate search procedures following court ruling

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John Lee

6th June 2023 – (Hong Kong) Chief Executive John Lee has confirmed that the Hong Kong government will look into the recent court ruling regarding car license plate searches and improve relevant procedures and guidelines to ensure they align with the ruling. Lee’s comments came a day after former RTHK producer Bao Choy Yuk-ling won an ultimate appeal at the city’s top court against her conviction of making false statements in a car plate search for an investigation into the Yuen Long attack during the social unrest in 2019.

Speaking before his weekly executive meeting, Lee said that the city upholds the rule of law, and the Transport and Logistic Bureau and the Transport Department will look into the top court’s verdict to make improvements accordingly to the relevant car plate search mechanism. Lee also stated that other government departments will review similar search mechanisms.

The ruling reflected Hong Kong’s fair and impartial judicial system, and the Basic Law is effectively executed in Hong Kong, added Lee. The government will ensure that the car plate search procedures and guidelines are in line with the court’s decision, he said.

The court ruling has been viewed as a victory for press freedom in Hong Kong. Choy had been found guilty of violating the Road Traffic Ordinance by searching a car licence plate without a “reasonable excuse” while working on a documentary about the Yuen Long attack. However, the appeal court overturned the conviction, stating that the information she obtained was in the public interest and that she had a reasonable excuse to access the data.

The case has raised concerns about the privacy of car owners in Hong Kong and the use of license plate searches by law enforcement agencies. The court’s decision has been seen as a significant step in preserving press freedom and protecting the public’s right to access information.

Meanwhile, Chief Executive John Lee also addressed the media and responded to questions about the recent arrests in North Point and Causeway Bay related to the 4ht June incident. A reporter asked why these individuals were arrested, as they did not seem to suggest any intention of overturning the government, and whether the National Security Law was invoked.

In response, Lee reiterated the government’s stance that everyone must act in accordance with the law and is responsible for their actions. He stated that the laws governing public events, such as the Public Order Ordinance, and activities related to incitement and disorderly conduct, are clearly stated in Hong Kong. The government’s position is that all individuals must act in accordance with the law, and any cases will be dealt with based on the actual circumstances and in accordance with the law. The Police will continue to handle such matters according to these principles.

The Chief Executive did not provide any specific information about the arrests or the reasons behind them. He emphasised the importance of following the law and reiterated the government’s commitment to upholding public order and security in Hong Kong.