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Press Statement:  Lin Qiaoying case

23 February 2001

Today, the Chief Immigration Assistant, Mr Lung Kin-sing, Immigration Assistant Miss Wong Chui-kam and part-time interpreter Mr Wong King-ang were acquitted in the Lin Qiaoying case. 

Miss Lin, a minor, was imprisoned for travelling under a fake passport, which was subsequently determined to be genuine.  The victim alleges that Immigration officials threatened her into confessing her passport was a fake.  Human Rights Monitor express great reservation that she would confess voluntarily that her passport was fake if it was in fact authentic. 

Justice Fung Wah acquitted the officers as a result of the "major discrepancies" he found in the testimony of Miss Lin.  As there was no video or other recording of the interrogation, the court had only the verbal evidence of the witness to consider.    During a criminal trial, the judge can only convict a defendant if the case is proved beyond a reasonable doubt.  With primarily verbal testimony to consider, and Lin's immature responses, the Judge had little choice but to acquit the accused.  However, Miss Lin may still have the option of filing a civil action where the burden of proof is much less onerous:  on the balance of probabilities.

Human Rights Monitor expresses a concern over the fact, as found by the Judge, that the immigration practices of having witnesses write certain phrases down, and not logging time contemporaneously were unacceptable.  Controls must be put in place to safeguard a detainee's rights and provide for an appropriate venue for complaints if these rights are infringed.  Videotapes should be made of all interrogations (unless the suspect objects in writing), but at a minimum, the interrogation of detainees who are minors, require interpreters (do not speak English or Cantonese), and are physically or mentally challenged should be video taped.  Such a system will afford better protection to both the suspects and the officers involved.

Human Rights Monitor urges the Secretary of Security to:  (1) disclose the Government's measures for ensuring this type of case does not occur again; (2) inform the public of the full facts of the Immigration Department's internal investigation; and (3) make known any decision on possible internal discipline of the parties involved in this incident. 

Additionally, Human Rights Monitor would like to renew its requests, made on 31 January 2000, for the Immigration Department to set up video taping facilities in interview rooms, and to establish an independent complaint system.  Implementation of these measures will provide a record of events and an independent investigation of complaints can be conducted afterwards.