The Ombudsman of Hong Kong, China, Ms Winnie Chiu, announced the launch of two own-motion investigations. One will examine the operational arrangements for statutory visits under the Justices of the Peace Visit Programme (JP Visit Programme); the other one will investigate problems of alleged illegal operation of kaito ferry service.
Justices of the Peace Visit Programme
Justices of the Peace (JPs) conduct statutory visits at designated institutions pursuant to the Justices of the Peace Ordinance and other relevant legislation. The JP Visit Programme serves as one of the important and independent channels for persons in custody, detained or hospitalised to express their views and lodge complaints.
The Ombudsman is launching this direct investigation to examine the operation of and arrangements for JP statutory visits, including the support provided by the relevant departments before and during JP visits and the follow-up actions afterwards. “We would make recommendations for improvement to the Government where necessary,” underlined Ombudsman Chiu.
Illegal operation of kaito ferry service
In recent years, with the outlying islands and rural coastal areas becoming popular spots for local tourism, there has been an increase in the demand for short-haul local marine transport services, such as kaito ferry services.
Nevertheless, the media has reported on irregularities often found in such short-haul passenger services provided by local vessels without a licence (commonly referred to as “white licence ferry services”), overloading, failing to provide sufficient life-saving appliances on board, violating the designated purposes of the relevant vessels, and more.
Ombudsman Chiu said, “Many people like to use kaito services for excursions to the outlying islands or countryside. However, there is a problem of vessels suspected of providing illegal services and the safety risks should not be overlooked. The relevant authorities have the responsibility to ensure the safety of local marine transport.”
Source: Office of the Ombudsman of Hong Kong, China