Hong Kong Will Consult Public on Amending Obscenity Ordinance

HONG KONG - The Xinhua news agency reports that the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR) government will consult the public later this year on ways to amend the Control of Obscene and Indecent Articles Ordinance.

HKSAR government secretary for commerce and economic development Frederick Ma told legislators that such amendments could include the development of criteria for assessing the content of an article and the assessment system itself.

According to Xinhua, Ma emphasized that enforcement of the obscenity ordinance lies with the Television and Entertainment Licensing Authority (TELA), the police and the Customs and Excise Department.

Xinua noted that over the past three years, these departments have initiated 1,876 prosecutions and secured 1,829 convictions, of which 1,198 prosecutions and 1,178 convictions involved possession of obscene or indecent articles for publication.

According to Ma, given the huge volume and transient nature of internet-based information, enforcement agencies have adopted a complaint-driven approach to deal with indecent online content. According to Xinhua, over the past three years, the agencies instituted five prosecutions against publication of obscene or indecent articles over the Internet with all leading to convictions.

Xinhua quoted Ma as saying, "All agencies will take enforcement action in a lawful, conscious and fair manner." He added, "All prosecutions initiated by the police will be based on sufficient evidence to support the charge."

Ma went on to note, "It will also be ensured the prosecution is in compliance with the statutory requirements and procedures, and is administered in accordance with the principle of equality before the law."