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Keywords and ¡¥made-simple¡¦ Summary of the National Security
(Legislative Provisions) Bill
(1st edition ¡V Emergency Investigation Powers)

At present, police have to apply for search warrants from court to enter and search a premise in most investigations. Emergency investigation powers are available under only a few ordinances, such as the Firearms and Ammunition Ordinance, Crimes Ordinance and Gambling Ordinance.

For instance, under the Crimes Ordinance (Cap 200), a police officer at the rank of superintendent or above may issue authorisation of entry, search and seizure if he has reason to suspect that an offence under Part XII (sexual and related offences) of the Ordinance has been or is being committed in or in respect of or in connection with any premises or place or any vessel.

In the proposed national security law, a new section will be added to the Crimes Ordinance to provide for the exercise of emergency investigation powers by police officers at or above the rank of assistant commissioner of police for treason, subversion, secession and sedition offences.

The proposal has sparked concerns from journalists and legal experts, over possible abuse of power.

The government emphasised that the emergency powers can only be exercised if the police officer reasonably believes that the relevant offence has been or is being committed, and that unless immediate action is taken evidence of substantial value to the investigation of the offence would be lost, and that the investigation would be seriously prejudiced as a result.

The administration also emphasised that search or seizure of journalistic materials may be carried out only if the officers have obtained a judicial warrant in advance. The freedom of the press will not be affected.

The proposed law also states that people charged with treason, secession or subversion must be tried by jury. Those charged with sedition or unlawful disclosure may opt for trial by jury if they so wish.

Note: Credit is due to the Hon Bernard Chan for sharing these information with me.

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