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就《公開資料守則》索取國安法官資料 眾新聞記者與特首辦書信往來全文


眾新聞記者兩度引用《公開資料守則》,向特首辦索取國安法下裁判法院、高等法院及終審法院指定法官名單及人數。特首辦原先稱過早申請,但其後改口說國安法指定法官的姓名及職稱是個人資料,未得法官同意不得向外提供。司法機構回覆《公開資料守則》查詢時則說,如果政府認為適合,司法機構準備好公開相關資料。

特首辦拒公開國安法官名單 指涉個人資料 陳文敏斥聞所未聞

根據公開資料守則,政府部門除非有合理解釋,否則應配合提供資料。資料圖片

眾新聞記者及特首辦書信往來全文如下:

(1)眾新聞記者7月10日引用《公開資料守則》向特首辦索取:

行政長官2020年7月3日根據《港區國安法》指定的6名裁判官的:(1)姓名(2)所屬裁判法院(3)職稱/職銜」。

(2)特首辦公開資料主任7月23日回覆:

「根據《中華人民共和國香港特別行政區維護國家安全法》第四十四條,行政長官應當從裁判官、區域法院法官、高等法院原訟法庭法官、上訴法庭法官以及終審法院法官中指定若干名法官,也可從暫委或者特委法官中指定若干名法官,負責處理危害國家安全犯罪案件。 行政長官於2020年7月3日指定首批裁判官處理一宗緊急案件。行政長官將按需要繼續指定其他法院的法官,並會考慮在適當時候一併公布相關資料。根據《公開資料守則》第2.17段(有關過早要求索取資料的豁免條文),本辦公室未能提供你所索取的資料。

如你認為上述決定並不恰當,你可以來函要求本辦公室對你申請索取資料一事進行內部覆檢。此外,你亦可根據《公開資料守則》第1.26段向申訴專員跟進。」

(3)眾新聞記者10月8日要求內部覆核申請

「I write to review your office’s decision, which rejected my application dated July 3 in seeking the (i) names, (ii) respective courts, and (iii) official titles of the magistrates designated by the Chief Executive under The Law of the People's Republic of China on Safeguarding National Security in the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (“NSL”).

It is worth setting out the background of this application. The NSL was formally gazetted on June 30, where the first charge has arisen from the event on July 1.

At 2pm on July 3, a government spokesperson said via a press statement entitled “Establishment of Committee for Safeguarding National Security of HKSAR”, and mentioned the following:

“As required by Article 44(1) of the National Security Law, the Chief Executive, after consulting the Committee and the Chief Justice of the Court of Final Appeal, has also designated six serving magistrates from the Judiciary as designated judges to handle cases concerning offences endangering national security.” (emphasis added)

The request under the Code on Access to Information (“the Code”) was raised at 6pm on the same day of July 3 by email to the Chief Executive’s Office, setting out the three kinds of information aforementioned.

The grounds of review include:

(1) The CE Office cited the wrong reason

It was important to bear in mind that the application was specific to the six magistrates designated, not other judges at high level courts yet to be appointed at the time.

Rejecting the request, your office cited paragraph 2.17 under the Code that “Information which will soon be published, or the disclosure of which would be premature in relation to a planned announcement or publication.”
This is however clearly a wrong interpretation of the exemption under the Code to provide a simple answer to a question of undeniable public interest.

The paragraph 2.17.1, 2.17.2, and 2.17.3 of Guidelines on Interpretation and Application of the Code clearly suggested the exemption is only to protect information, in their final form, “which will be published by the department within 60 days after the request is made”, “since the record containing the information will be a public document once it is published/announced”.

The request on July 3 was in relation to a final decision with regards to the six magistrates, which is already published by the government at the time. In fair interpretation of the Code, the request never comes any close to being qualified as “soon to be published” or “premature”. It’s already published and in public domain, it’s a matter of details of who, which court, and what’s the original role in the Judiciary.

Also worth considering, the relevant laws that govern court procedures stipulate that the name of the judges should be made clear to both the accused and the public, which made it even more compelling to provide names of the magistrates.

(2) The promise to disclose information never materialised

In rejecting the request, the Chief Executive’s Office claimed “the Chief Executive will continue to designate judges at other courts, and will disclose the relevant information all at one time”.

Firstly, the argument has unfairly raised the hurdle of the disclosure to all judges under the NSL. It was never the intention of the request- it was plainly about the magistrates, not others. Because there was an unfilled position in other levels of court, does not change the fact that the six magistrates are already a final and published information that warrant to be disclosed.

As an illustration of the example, the Chief Executive has regularly appointed judges and deputies judges under the recommendation of Judicial Officers Recommendation Commission, despite there are still unfilled position in various levels of courts. That will not stop the positive duty of the administration to disclose the judges and deputy judges appointed since they took office and started presiding over cases, instead of waiting for all positions filled.

Secondly, paragraph 2.17.1 of the Guidelines on Interpretation and Application of the Code stated “This provision may be used to protect information which will be published by the department within 60 days after the request is made.”
60 days have clearly passed after the initial request, but neither names of the six magistrates, nor the names of the judges from High Court and the Court of Final Appeal designated by the Chief Executive under the NSL have been released by the government.

(3) Updates should be given
While the publication of the judges designated did not happen within 60 days after the request made, based on the proper interpretation of the Code, the original request should be released since paragraph 2.17.3 of the Guideline clearly stated “If publication does not take place, the information should be released forthwith..”.
At the very least, the government should in a positive manner provide update where "The applicant should be informed of the position and given an indication of the expected publication/announcement date.” (paragraph 2.17.2 of the Guidelines) .

There is no such effort from the government at each juncture, neither counting from July 3 where the request made, or July 23 where the request is turned down.
Given the development of the events, it was unclear if the Chief Executive’s Office even had a “planned publication/announcement date” of the all judges at all levels of courts designated to hear NSL cases.

But the exemption has already been in use anyway, that pointed to an overly broad and potentially arbitrary use of the exemption under the Code.

Given the proper interpretation of the Code and the public interest in allowing clear administration of justice, I hope your office may release the requested information upon request, as well as the judges designated at other high level of courts under the NSL.」

(4)眾新聞記者10月5日根據《公開資料守則》向特首辦索取:

「行政長官根據《港區國安法》於高等法院(原訟庭及上訴法庭)及終審法院指定的法官之

一、最新人數;二、姓名;三、若不能提供姓名,則煩請提供職稱/職銜。」

(5)特首辦在11月20日分別經內部覆核維持原有決定,及拒絕披露另一宗有關高等法院及終審法院指定法官姓名及人數

就你於2020年10月5日在《公開資料守則》下索取資料的申請,本辦公室回覆如下:

根據《中華人民共和國香港特別行政區維護國家安全法》(“《港區國安法》”)第四十四條,行政長官應當從裁判官、區域法院法官、高等法院原訟法庭法官、上訴法庭法官以及終審法院法官中指定若干名法官,也可從暫委或者特委法官中指定若干名法官,負責處理危害國家安全犯罪案件。行政長官已根據上述條文指定若干法官,並會按需要繼續指定其他法官。

你所索取的資料中有關《港區國安法》下獲指定法官的姓名及其職稱/職銜,屬《個人資料(私隱)條例》(第486章)所保障的個人資料。該條例下的保障資料第3原則訂明,如無有關的資料當事人的訂明同意,個人資料不得用於新目的,即除在收集該資料時擬將該資料用於的目的或直接與之有關的目的。除《個人資料(私隱)條例》第8部任何豁免適用的情況外,如有關個人資料用於新目的,須獲得資料當事人的同意。

就你所索取的資料而言,在《港區國安法》下指定法官的個人資料是在保密的情況下收集,純粹作該法例下指定法官並讓他們處理與國家安全相關案件的用途(“原來目的”)。在沒有該些指定法官的同意而《個人資料(私隱)條例》第8部亦沒有任何豁免適用的情況下,其個人資料不得向你披露,以用作原來目的以外的目的。

此外,有關在《港區國安法》下指定法官的資料屬機密資料。在指定法官審理任何關於危害國家安全的案件前,依法維護及保障有關指定法官的資料的機密性,符合公眾利益。考慮到現時各相關情況,我們認為並無任何支持披露資料的相對公眾利益,應超過維護及保障指定法官的個人資料和所涉機密資料的公眾利益。在沒有該些法官的同意或任何法律許可下,有關資料不應予以披露。

《公開資料守則》第2.14(a)、2.15及2.18段訂明以下為可拒絕披露的資料:

2.14 (a) 資料是為第三者持有或由第三者提供,並從第三者明確知道或獲得暗示不會進一步披露。但如第三者同意或披露資料的公眾利益超過可能造成的傷害或損害,則可予以披露。

2.15 與任何人(包括已故人士) 有關的資料(除了向資料所述的當事人或其他合適人士披露外),除非:
(a) 披露這些資料符合蒐集資料的目的,或
(b) 資料所述的當事人或其他合適人士已同意披露資料,或
(c) 法例許可披露資料,或
(d) 披露資料的公眾利益超過可能造成的傷害或損害。

2.18 資料如披露會 :
(a) 牴觸任何適用於香港的法律,或
(b) 違反任何根據普通法或適用於香港的國際協議所引起的義務。

根據上述《公開資料守則》的段落,本辦公室未能提供你所索取的資料。

如你認為上述決定並不恰當,你可以來函要求本辦公室對你申請索取資料一事進行內部覆檢。此外,你亦可根據《公開資料守則》第1.26段向申訴專員跟進。」

「With regard to your request for review of 8 October 2020 under the Code on Access to Information (“the Code”), our response after internal review is set out below.

The requested information constitutes personal data protected under the Personal Data (Privacy) Ordinance (Cap. 486) (“PDPO”). Data protection principle 3 of the PDPO states that personal data shall not, without the prescribed consent of the data subject, be used for a new purpose, i.e. a purpose other than that for which the data was to be used at the time of the collection of the data or any purpose directly related thereto. If the personal data is used for a new purpose, the prescribed consent of the data subject would be required unless any of the exemptions in Part 8 of the PDPO applies.

As far as your request for information of 3 July 2020 is concerned, the personal data of the six designated judges was collected in confidence solely for the purpose of designation under the NSL and their handling of cases concerning national security (“the Original Purpose”). In the absence of the designated judges’ consent, and given that none of the exemptions in Part 8 of the PDPO is applicable, the personal data of the designated judges cannot be disclosed to you to be used for a purpose other than the Original Purpose.

Furthermore, the information relating to the designation of judges under the NSL is confidential. It is in the public interest that confidence relating to the designation of judges should be preserved and protected by the law before the judges hear any cases concerning offence endangering national security. Having regard to the circumstances of the present case, we do not consider that there is any countervailing public interest in favour of disclosure that outweighs the public interest in preserving and protecting the personal information relating to the designated judges as well as the confidentiality involved. Such information should not be disclosed in the absence of the designated judges’ consent and without any legal authorisation requiring the disclosure.

Paragraphs 2.14(a), 2.15 and 2.18 of the Code provide that disclosure of the following information may be refused:

2.14(a) Information held for, or provided by, a third party under an explicit or implicit understanding that it would not be further disclosed. However, such information may be disclosed with the third party's consent, or if the public interest in disclosure outweighs any harm or prejudice that would result.

2.15 Information about any person (including a deceased person) other than to the subject of the information, or other appropriate person, unless -
(a) such disclosure is consistent with the purposes for which the information was collected, or
(b) the subject of the information, or other appropriate person, has given consent to its disclosure, or
(c) disclosure is authorised by law, or
(d) the public interest in disclosure outweighs any harm or prejudice that would result.

2.18 Information the disclosure of which would constitute -
(a) a contravention of any law which applies in Hong Kong, or
(b) a breach of any obligation arising under common law or under any international agreement which applies to Hong Kong.

Pursuant to the above paragraphs of the Code, we are unable to provide the requested information.

Should you disagree with the above decision, you may consider taking the matter to the Ombudsman pursuant to paragraph 1.26 of the Code.」




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