HKBA's comments on Subcommittee on Juvenile Justice System: Consultancy Report on Measures Alternative to Prosecution for Handling Unruly Children and Young Persons

Hong Kong Bar Association's comments on

Subcommittee on Juvenile Justice System:

Consultancy Report on Measures Alternative to Prosecution for

Handling Unruly Children and Young Persons



1. The Hong Kong Bar Association ("HKBA") has
considered the Administration's Response to the Consultancy Report on
Measures Alternative to Prosecution for Handling Unruly Children and Young
Persons ("the Consultancy Report").

2. The HKBA recalls its earlier views that the recommendations
contained in the Consultancy Report will have wide implications for the
juvenile justice system in Hong Kong as a whole and thus have an impact
on the administration of justice in our society; and that they should
not be implemented on a piece-meal basis. Instead there should be a study
to consider a structured implementation.

3. The HKBA welcomes the Administration's proposal to
introduce enhanced measures to strengthen publicly-funded support to unruly
children and young offenders to help prevent them from developing behaviourial
problems again or re-offending. The HKBA agrees with the proposals to
extend the existing support services to unruly children under 10 and to
sanction references by the police of cases of unruly children under 10
to the Social Welfare Department for follow-up in the absence of parental
consent.

4. The HKBA notes that the Sub-committee is in favour
of the introduction of a "new juvenile justice system". The
Administration's response is to emphasize the existing alternatives to
prosecution (such as the Police Superintendent Discretion Scheme and the
pilot Family Conference scheme) and to review the effectiveness of the
pilot Family Conference scheme before deciding the way forward in consultation
with the Department of Justice and the Judiciary.

5. The HKBA considers that the present juvenile justice
system has incorporated a significant degree of flexibility. Changes to
it should not be lightly contemplated. That said, it is important to consider
from time to time whether the present juvenile justice system can be improved.

6. With respect to any proposed improvements, the HKBA's
primary areas of concern are the impact of any new system or measure on
the rights of the accused person, the rights of the accused person's family
and the rights of the victim and on the proper observance of due process.
At present, however, there do not appear to be any concrete proposals
on the table for comment. Given the primary focus of the HKBA's interest
in this matter, only when there are concrete proposals on the table would
the HKBA consider that it can make a real contribution to the development
of the juvenile justice system of the HKSAR. The HKBA would like to be
kept informed of any timetable and details of such proposed improvements
so that timely comments can be provided.



Dated 13th May 2004

Hong Kong Bar Association