Anti Human Trafficking Bill “likely” to be passed at Assembly: lawmaker

Friday, June 6, 2008
Issue 366, Page 2
Word count: 474
Published in: Macau Daily Times

By Poyi (Natalie) Leung

The Anti Human Trafficking Crime Bill which is to introduce tougher regulations to Macau’s legal system will be put for final plenary voting at the Legislative Assembly next week after the First Standing Committee completed the deliberation yesterday.

President of the committee, Kwan Tsui Hang, said their meetings did not see much debate between lawmakers and government representatives regarding the new provisions and she expected that the bill will be passed with majority votes possibly at the Assembly’s plenary meeting next Thursday.

According to Ms Kwan, the bill was to “close the loopholes” of the existing law that “cannot combat human trafficking to a full extent”.

At present, human trafficking can only be regulated by Article 7 of the 6/97/M law decree that deals with organised crimes.

However, the committee president pointed out that the law will then not be able to tackle human trafficking if it is not operated by a “mob” or a “group of persons”.

In addition, Article 7 only regulates persons being illegally smuggled from Macau, but fails to control the other way round that is persons from outside Macau being trafficked into the SAR.

Ms Kwan said the bill does not only include the above two amendments, but also introduces an assistance mechanism to protect human trafficking’s victims who can receive local government aids including medical, counselling service and legal support.

Lawmakers also suggested an increased severity of jail sentences which currently limit between two and 15 years varying on the age of victims.

The committee president said the move was supported by the government which has been reflected in the bill. But she added that the actual verdict will still depend on the seriousness of each individual crime.

The Standing Committee has already signed the submission of the bill’s final version yesterday and the bill will “very likely” be approved at the Assembly next week, Ms Kwan said.

Electoral Laws’ amendments

The First Standing Committee is also being assigned for the deliberation work of the proposed changes of the Voters Registration Act and the Legislative Council Electoral Law.

Ms Kwan said lawmakers will begin looking at the Voters Registration Act and formal internal meetings will be held starting today.

Government representatives will be invited to the committee meetings next week, she added.

As the government said the amendments are to particularly cater for the Chief Executive and Legislative Council elections in 2009, Ms Kwan said the committee will strive to have the deliberation of both laws completed before the Assembly’s annual recess that normally takes place between August 15 and October 14 by having three meetings a week.

The Voters Registration Act and the Legislative Council Electoral Law consist of respectively some 50 and 201 provisions.

Proposed changes of the Chief Executive Electoral Law will be allocated to other standing committee which is not yet known by now.

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