The Chief Executive, Carrie Lam, said on Tuesday that as 12 Hong Kong people being held in Shenzhen are facing charges of illegally crossing the border, which is a matter within mainland jurisdiction, it’s appropriate the authorities there use mainland laws to handle it.
Lam made the comments as she met the media ahead of the weekly Executive Council meeting and faced questions on complaints from the families of the 12 that their legal rights are not being upheld and lawyers denied access.
“The first principle is every individual, every Hong Kong resident has to accept their own responsibility. If they go into another jurisdiction and breached the law, and in this case, they were suspected to have illegally entered the mainland, then they have to accept their legal liabilities," said Hong Kong's top official.
“So when you use the term legal rights, yes, every person should have their legal rights by law, but they should also accept their legal liabilities.”
Lam said that the 12 people fled from Hong Kong while on bail or waiting for trail, and all of them are wanted by the police.
The CE said she wanted to set the record straight by explaining “the nature of the matter”, because some people here and abroad had tried to shift the focus by describing the 12 detainees as democracy activists whose rights are being suppressed, or that they were all wanted for national security offences.
“Of the 12 suspected persons who have now been detained in the mainland, only one had allegedly committed an offence under the national security law. The other 11 have committed crimes under the Criminal Ordinance, and they are very serious crimes of arson, possession of explosives, making of explosives and so on."
"So the government will have to take this very seriously in following up the case after these cases have been handled in the mainland according to the mainland laws.”
Asked about foreign ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying's comments that the 12 were arrested for breaching national security laws, Lam said she would not comment on other people’s remarks “unless it is something of very important matter that we need to refute or respond to".
The 12 were detained by the coast guard while trying to flee to Taiwan, apparently to seek political asylum.