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HK Drafts Laws to Guard Against Child Pornography
With US web-sites flooding the internet and real world with text on pornography, the Hong Kong Special Administration Region (HKSAR) government is making laws to protect children from being exploited for pornography purposes.

One who wants to know how abysmal the situation needs only to use internet search engines, such as, Comet and Google to discover the vast legally questionable pictures and videos on sale, which depict girls seemingly under the age of 16 engaging in explicit sexual act.

Just to illustrate how vile the situation is, a simple entry of the two word "child pornography" on the US-based comet search conducted Thursday leads to a startling 77,900 links on free child pornography pictures within a mere 0.18 second of search time.

Many of these productions were produced in the United States or Europe, but given the increasingly globalized and digitized world, such promiscuous materials are either being spontaneously broadcast or compulsively exported to the four corners of the world, severely contaminating the spiritual health of many nations and regions.

Eliza Yau, HKSAR Principal Assistant Secretary for Security told the HKSAR Legislative Council Thursday that questionable materials of this sort discovered on sale in certain derelict cul-de-sacs of some seedy parts of Hong Kong were all foreign-produced. No Hong Kong-produced ones were found so far, she said.

But to better comply with the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child, which applies to the Hong Kong SAR, and to guard against the possible production of such obscene materials here, the HKSAR government is currently finalizing details of the Prevention of Child Pornography Bill.

The government was standing firm during the council's bills committee meeting Thursday that the gloss "a person who is, or appears to be, a person under the age of 16" be retained for the law to be effective in cracking down on any image or objects that "depicts a person who is or appears to be engaged in explicitly sexual conduct or, in a manner or context, genitals or anal region of a person or the breast of a female person."

The gloss "any person who is, or appears to be under the age of16" caused slight controversy at the council due to the alleged difficulty the court may face in establishing evidence against the persons who possess or produce materials depicting minor that "appears to be" under 16.

However, Senior Government Counsel of the HKSAR Department of Justice Lynda Shine assertively stated the government's position that the "appears to be" gloss must be retained to effectively enforced the law in future.

"If you takes out the words 'appears to be,' you are going to be left in a situation where both the police and prosecutors, based on the materials in a situation that is read, have to prove that the person depicted is actually under the age of 16.

"Now this is impossible in the context of films that was already produced overseas, and of the position of people in Hong Kong, whether they ordered them on Internet or however they obtained them. This is impossible for us to comply with our international obligation.

"I must tell you that unless you have the evidence, before the court, of the young girl's birth certificate, you will never get a prosecution," Shine explained.

Legislative Councilor David Chu Yu Lin conceded to Shine's opinion, saying, "The gray area surely exists.... The fact that the age is set at 16 is, I find, very reasonable. In the law enforcement process, if the innocent are affected one day, the court can prove them innocent.

"The direction of protecting children is right, and the draft bill is fine. Hong Kong has very good magistrates and judges to rule in a discerning manner," Chu said.

(People’s Daily October 17, 2002)

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