Date
28 March 2017
Azizul Rahman Suffiad (inset, right) became commissioner this year, but the annual report deals with cases from 2014. Photos: HKEJ, HK govt, RTHK
Azizul Rahman Suffiad (inset, right) became commissioner this year, but the annual report deals with cases from 2014. Photos: HKEJ, HK govt, RTHK

Head of surveillance watchdog refuses to hold news conference

The commissioner on interception of communications and surveillance has opted not to hold a press conference to answer questions from lawmakers about the cases mentioned in the commission’s annual report for 2014.

The report was submitted to the city’s chief executive in June.

Members of the Legislative Council’s panel on security said the decision goes against the usual practice and they will write to the commissioner, Azizul Rahman Suffiad, asking for a meeting to be set up, Ming Pao Daily reported Wednesday.

The commission’s secretariat said in a written reply to the newspaper that the previous news conferences were all hosted by commissioners who had written the annual reports.

However, it said, since the former commissioner, Darryl Gordon Saw, who wrote the 2014 annual report, has left office, it would not be appropriate for Suffiad to answer questions regarding issues prior to his becoming commissioner on Aug. 17.

Several legislators, including the Democratic Party’s James To Kun-sun, said they are very concerned about a case included in the 2014 annual report about law enforcement officers misidentifying a target and intercepting the communications of the target without authorization for four days.

To argued that Suffiad, a former High Court judge, should come forth to answer questions in a new conference, even though he wasn’t in office last year.

Ip Kwok-him, the Democratic Alliance for the Betterment and Progress of Hong Kong lawmaker who chairs the panel on security, has agreed that a letter be sent to the commissioner to request a meeting.

Secretary for Security Lai Tung-kwok said Suffiad and the relevant law enforcement agencies will follow up with the cases vigilantly, but he did not disclose the progress of any investigation.

A lawmaker expressed concern that only 222 people were arrested in 2014, down from 261 from the previous year, when the number of approved requests to intercept communications increased from 1,412 in 2013 to 1,561 last year.

Lai said the authority under the Interception of Communications and Surveillance Ordinance to intercept communications has never been abused and said only 60-odd law enforcement officers have been disciplined for violating the ordinance since it was introduced nine years ago.

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