Chief Executive Carrie Lam said on Tuesday that the Hong Kong government received no notification from mainland authorities about the alleged detention and questioning of members of Demosisto, a pro-democracy political group.
Lam told reporters that she would not comment on the case because she was unable to verify if it happened. She added that the Hong Kong government has an understanding with the Public Security Bureau of mainland China to share information, which was signed after she took office last year.
“If there were Hong Kong people being detained or arrested for criminal offences, we would receive notification. On this case, we have not received any notification,” Lam said.
Demosisto told reporters on Monday that two of its members were detained and questioned in mainland China by state security officers, one in March and another in August, before being released.
The group said that, on March 26, a member was taken from the Shenzhen high-speed rail station to a local police station and questioned for three hours. Officers told them not to publicly disclose the incident, and called the member multiple times – using a local Hong Kong number – a week after they returned to Hong Kong according to Demosisto.
Another member was taken from the Guangzhou rail station to a hotel on August 17, the group said. They added that officers attached what appeared to be a lie detector to the member’s hand, and conducted questioning for five hours.
Demosisto withheld the personal details of both members for safety reasons, and did not arrange for them to appear at the press conference.
Speaking to HKFP about Lam’s comments, Demosisto’s Secretary-General Joshua Wong cast doubt on the notification system: “When the state security officers detained the two [Demosisto members], they did not say what laws were broken. Carrie Lam said the Hong Kong government did not receive any notification of Hong Kong people being detained, doesn’t that prove that the notification mechanism exists in name only?” Wong told HKFP.
On Tuesday, Lam commented on the absence of the two members: “As far as this case is concerned, all the details were provided unilaterally by one side, even without the affected persons appearing to substantiate their claims or allegations.”
“I can only say that as a matter of policy and principle, we would expect Hong Kong people, when they go to another territory, they have to respect the legal jurisdiction and the legislation of that place,” she added.
Lam also said that local law enforcement agencies are the “only authorised institutions” to enforce the law in Hong Kong.
Speaking to the press during his Beijing visit, Secretary for Security John Lee Ka-chiu also did not comment on the specifics of the Demosisto case on Tuesday.
“Anybody who has anything that they want to seek help on, or any matters they want to raise for the government to assist, then it is important that the responsible persons approach the department concerned, provide the information, so that the department concerned can act in accordance with the information provided and in accordance with the special circumstances of the case,” Lee said.