The commissioner overseeing covert surveillance operations by law-enforcement agencies said on Monday that he has no power to regulate investigations relating to national security, and nor does he think this should be added to his mandate.
Azizul Suffiad, commissioner on interception of communications and surveillance, said even though the watchdog is responsible for overseeing the police's covert operations, what the force's national security unit does falls outside of his scrutiny.
"The commissioner has no say in the investigation under the national security law, nor will the commissioner be in any position to review or look into or oversight the investigation to national security," he told a press conference.
The national security law in Hong Kong stipulates that it's the chief executive who is responsible for approving interception and covert operations in relation to national security matters.
When asked if he thinks the commissioner should be given the power to also oversee cases regarding national security, and be included in the government's Committee for Safeguarding National Security, Suffiad said this may add too much to his workload.
"Insofar as national security is concerned, if that was also put onto my plate, the commissioner may well be overworked...the powers that be have seen fit that there is a division of labour such that the national security has been put onto the plate of someone else," said the former High Court judge.
He made the remarks as the watchdog published its annual report for 2019.
The commissioner noted there were a few cases of non-compliance by officers, but concluded that there is no sign of abuse of surveillance devices.
Suffiad said he believes the non-compliance cases were simply out of "inadvertence or carelessness".