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National Security Department
國家安全處
AbbreviationNS
Agency overview
Formed1 July 2020
Jurisdictional structure
Operations jurisdictionHong Kong
Constituting instrument
General nature
Operational structure
Overviewed byCommittee for Safeguarding National Security of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region
Parent agencyHong Kong Police Force

National Security Department is a department of the Hong Kong Police Force established on 1 July 2020 under Hong Kong national security law to "safeguard" the national security of China.[1] Responsible for arresting pro-democracy politicians in the city, the National Security Department is regarded as the security police after the Hong Kong Special Branch was disbanded in 1995.[2]

With a structure similar to the Special Branch, the National Security Department is led by a Deputy Commissioner of Police.[3] The department may recruit professionals from outside Hong Kong "to provide assistance in the performance of duties for safeguarding national security".[4] Besides, the department shall work with Office for Safeguarding National Security of the CPG in the HKSAR and is supervised by Committee for Safeguarding National Security of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region.

Duties

According to Article 17 of the NSL, the duties and functions of the department shall be:[4]

  1. collecting and analysing intelligence and information concerning national security;
  2. planning, coordinating and enforcing measures and operations for safeguarding national security;
  3. investigating offences endangering national security;
  4. conducting counter-interference investigation and national security review;
  5. carrying out tasks of safeguarding national security assigned by the Committee for Safeguarding National Security of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region; and
  6. performing other duties and functions necessary for the enforcement of this Law [national security law].

Power

According to Article 43 of the NSL, the department is allowed to take the following actions:

  1. search of premises, vehicles, vessels, aircraft and other relevant places and electronic devices that may contain evidence of an offence;
  2. ordering any person suspected of having committed an offence endangering national security to surrender travel documents, or prohibiting the person concerned from leaving the Region;
  3. freezing of, applying for restraint order, charging order and confiscation order in respect of, and forfeiture of property used or intended to be used for the commission of the offence, proceeds of crime, or other property relating to the commission of the offence;
  4. requiring a person who published information or the relevant service provider to delete the information or provide assistance;
  5. requiring a political organisation of a foreign country or outside the mainland, Hong Kong and Macao of the People's Republic of China, or an agent of authorities or a political organisation of a foreign country or outside the mainland, Hong Kong and Macao of the People's Republic of China, to provide information;
  6. upon approval of the Chief Executive, carrying out interception of communications and conducting covert surveillance on a person who is suspected, on reasonable grounds, of having involved in the commission of an offence endangering national security; and
  7. requiring a person, who is suspected, on reasonable grounds, of having in possession information or material relevant to investigation, to answer questions and furnish such information or produce such material.

The National Security Department is given unprecedented power of bypassing Interception of Communications and Surveillance Ordinance to intercept communication of and monitor anyone suspected of endangering the national security. Warrants from courts are no longer needed for the department to search any premises with possible criminal evidence.[5] Furthermore, the department is responsible for vetting candidates for elections after the election change imposed by the Chinese Government.[6]

Leadership

Operations

See also: List of Hong Kong national security cases

The National Security Department has accused and arrested dissenting voices in Hong Kong for "endangering" the national security, including pro-democracy politicians and protestors. Some websites were also reportedly banned by the department, including Hong Kong Watch.[9]

Police in the department had to be vetted to review the allegiance and loyalty to China, non-disclosure agreements are signed also.[10]

Senior police of the department has been sanctioned by the United States, including Edwina Lau, Frederic Choi, for their role in enforcing the NSL.[11][12]

References

  1. ^ "The Law of the People's Republic of China on Safeguarding National Security in the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region gazetted and takes immediate effect (with photos)". www.info.gov.hk. Retrieved 2022-04-13.
  2. ^ "Has Hong Kong's national security law created secret police with Chinese characteristics?". The Strategist. 2020-07-13. Retrieved 2022-04-13.
  3. ^ "【最新】警務處已設國家安全處作國安法執法部門". Now 新聞 (in Chinese (Hong Kong)). Retrieved 2022-04-13.
  4. ^ a b Law of the People's Republic of China on Safeguarding National Security in the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region  – via Wikisource.
  5. ^ 吳倬安 (2020-07-02). "港版國安法|比對03年23條草案 顛覆罪、分裂國家罪「大加辣」". 香港01 (in Chinese (Hong Kong)). Retrieved 2022-04-13.
  6. ^ "立法會候選人資格審查 譚耀宗:先由警方國安處審核". news.rthk.hk (in Chinese (Taiwan)). Retrieved 2022-04-13.
  7. ^ 鄭秋玲 (2020-06-29). "國安法|消息:警隊劉賜蕙升副處長掌國安部門 蔡展鵬任副手". 香港01 (in Chinese (Hong Kong)). Retrieved 2022-04-13.
  8. ^ "袁旭健接替蕭澤頤獲委任警務處副處長 消息:蔡展鵬昨已復工 (10:51)". Ming Pao (in Traditional Chinese). 2021-08-12. Retrieved 2022-04-13.
  9. ^ "Hong Kong Watch website blocked by internet firms in Hong Kong". Hong Kong Watch. Retrieved 2022-04-13.
  10. ^ "李家超:執行國安法警員需接受品格審查 遵守保密原則". RFI - 法國國際廣播電台 (in Traditional Chinese). 2020-06-14. Retrieved 2022-04-13.
  11. ^ "Syria Designations; Syria-related Designations; Hong Kong-related Designations". U.S. Department of the Treasury. Retrieved 2022-04-13.
  12. ^ "U.S. announces new sanctions on six linked to Hong Kong mass arrests". Reuters. 2021-01-15. Retrieved 2022-04-13.