Call for fast work on upskirt outrage law

Local | Sophie Hui 15 Apr 2019

Pro-establishment legislator Elizabeth Quat Pui-fan is considering tabling a private member's bill to introduce laws on voyeurism unless the administration launches a legislative process immediately.

Speaking at City Forum yesterday, the member of the Democratic Alliance for the Betterment and Progress of Hong Kong, said clandestine photo-taking is a serious issue that must be addressed urgently.

"There are more than 300 cases a year on average," she said. "Speaking only about upskirt photos taken on the MTR, there are already more than 100 cases. However, these cases are only tip of the iceberg as many people didn't know they were being pictured."

Previously, Quat said, the punishment for such crimes under obtaining access to a computer with a view to dishonest gain was not strict. "They were sentenced to a few weeks in jail, or a few months at the most."

Quat is also concerned that if law-enforcement agencies fail to properly charge suspects and use binding-over orders instead of giving them a criminal record it will send a wrong message to society.

But a specific law would let people know that such behavior is a sexual assault, she said.

"To date, if there is clandestine photo-taking in a private place, what law should we use to arrest and prosecute? . . . This is a serious social problem."

The SAR should learn from Britain, she said, noting that it made upskirt photo-taking a criminal offense this year.

Her comments come after the Court of Final Appeal ruled this month that "obtaining access to a computer with a view to dishonest gain" cannot be a catch-all charge.

That led to the Department of Justice on Wednesday dropping charges against a 30-year-old man facing four counts relating to taking pictures of another man inside a mall toilet. He was bound over for 12 months.

On Friday, Secretary for Security John Lee Ka-chiu told lawmakers he wanted work to proceed on a law to tackle voyeurism, though that awaited the completion of a Law Reform Commission consultation.

But information technology sector legislatpr Charles Mok said there is no need to wait for a commission report before beginning work on legislation.

And Eric Cheung Tat-ming, a member of the commission panel reviewing sexual offenses, said the consultation has in fact ended.

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