Transparency is Non-negotiable

Jason CHAO
Nov 9, 2018 · 2 min read
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Press conference on the proposed wire-tapping / intercept legislation by the New Macau Association (Photo credit: New Macau Association)

(Drafted for the New Macau Association)

The New Macau Association demands that the wire-tapping legislation shall require the Court of Final Appeal (TUI) to regularly publish the number of orders of interception of communication granted by all levels of Macau courts.

During the open consultation period, the authorities have strongly reacted against the call for the transparency of the future use of powers under the proposed communication interception law. Concepts such as “civil law tradition” and the “particularities of the common law tradition” were repeatedly invoked to argue against mechanisms for public oversight.

In light of German Criminal Procedure Code Article 100B, it is not at odds with civil law tradition to make available to the public the numbers of approved interceptions of communications. The higher reluctance the Macau authorities show in connection to increasing transparency, the more suspicious they appear in a proposal for new powers.

The New Macau Association urges the Macau authorities not to deviate from its usual interpretation of the principle of “judiciary secrecy” in criminal proceedings. It is an established practice of the police authorities to announce the numbers of opened criminal cases and named suspects. The availability of these numbers concerning on-going investigations by no means was considered a violation of judiciary secrecy, so would the numbers of interception measures.

New Macau Association’s attention was also drawn to a statement published by the Judicial Police on 07 October 2018 questioning the realistic use of figures on interception orders in the public oversight of the government. The New Macau Association would like to remind the government officials that they are not in a position to advice the public on what data might not be useful in monitoring their exercise of power. More importantly, the officials should change the adversarial attitude toward public oversight.

The New Macau Association reiterates the demand that new powers to intercept communications may not be granted to the police authorities, unless measures to guarantee transparency are put in place, in particular, regular publication of numbers of approved orders.

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