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。
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.