10 March 2010

Sexual Offences Records Checks for Child-related Work

Tell me there's no media bias.

For those of you who don't read Chinese, the above screen capture was the RSS feed from RTHK I got yesterday. The frist thread is about the debate in Legco yesterday on the proposed Sexual Offences Records Checks for Child-related Work. It said legislators supported the proposal and thought that it's an important measure to prevent molestation. At the very same time, RTHK fed us the news about the conviction of a teacher having sex with his 11-year-old student. TVB evening news last night (March 11) handled the two pieces of news in the same manner as well, though at the time of writing, they've yet to upload the clip onto their site. Now we all see that the problem is absolutely imminent and that pedos are everywhere without us knowing who they are! We need labels on them!

I oppose register/record checking on criminal offenses of any kind in principle. I don't understand why anybody who has served their sentences should be assumed having more chances of committing an offense again. Judges should have made sure that sufficient time for rehabilitation would be given to these offenders as their sentences before bringing them back to the society. Or else the imprisonment serves no purpose except making everybody happy by giving them an ambiguous justice. So when they are released, they should be considered having equal chances of committing offenses like everybody else. I understand perfectly that sexual drive could be a bitch to deal with, and that some people find it extremely difficult to control themselves. But that little thing in us that makes us do or not to do something is freedom, the dignity of humanity. Everybody, past offenders or others, can choose to do something wrong or right freely. All of us share the equal chance. Labelling past offenders in any way would only make their lives unreasonably harder than others. I told you about the ridiculous sex offenders registry in the USA. Although we are not coming any close to that now, we can imagine the injustice entailed when the labelling/registry system is taken to its extreme.

If the specialists consider that certain sexual offenders are still having problem in coping with their sexual drives, what these offenders need is professional help, instead of a label. Of course, they should not be allowed to work in positions closely related to children, but then the situation is entirely different: they're not left alone with their record stuck on their backs. Once they've got their shits together, they should be treated fairly as others. They should be considered "normal" like others. I know it requires lots of resources, but isn't our reserve overflown?

Now looks like we're going to have a record checking system, as the proposal was adopted in Legco yesterday. And it will be an administrative scheme before any proper legislation. I checked the Law Reform Commission's report and found a few questions we need to answer from there. Who has the authority to access the data? Although the checking will have to be initiated by the job applicant, it is not clear who from the employer side has the right to ask the job applicants to do that. And whom from the employer side the police should inform upon a checking request? Any measure to ensure that the data will be accessible by the authorised users only? Any mechanism to handle complaints related to the checking? When will a past offender be de-listed? We read that convictions "spent" under section 2 of the Rehabilitation of Offenders Ordinance (Cap 297) will not be included in the record, but what are those really? I'm not an e-lawyer, but a quick look at the Ordinance told me that very little offenses will be excluded. It seems that without proper legislation, these issues remain unsolved and there're possibilities of abuse to the scheme.

We all agree that children should be protected. But I don't see any reason to shove on a scheme that has real possibilities of injustice toward to past offenders. Like the drug test, we need more time and effort spent on this, or simply drop it.


  1. Moreover, the one key question which the LAw Reform report inexplicably failed to address is do these registers actually work, in the sense of reducing the number of offences committed? Or do they simply move the offences from the places which the register "protects" to other random places which it doesn't?

    And since the vast majority of offenders are family members of the victims, these schemes could make only a fairly small difference in the bigger scheme of things even if they did bring about any reductions.

  2. Laws are sometimes not decided purely on "fairness" (whatever that means) but also popular opinion and knee-jerk reactions. As good and upstanding legislators, it's good PR when they put in place something that discriminates against an unpopular minority. Hence, the measures put in place may not necessarily be scientific, but who needs that when you've got a warm and fuzzy feeling from the gut that you did the right thing.

    Maybe some day in the future, there'll be an epiphany and and our children will laugh at us and say "Tee hee, what a bunch of fucktards, they sure were backwards to discriminate against those who have already served their time", but I'm not holding my breath.

  3. Sad but true, Anon.

    Are we having the same Anon here?

  4. Henry,

    Yes, it's getting confusing here.


  5. judging from the quality of comments, i guess it's the same Anon. (I seriously petition Henry to replace me with Anon)

    Very true that sentencing may not be decided purely on "fairness", sometimes it can be based on the stupid reason that the prisons are just overcrowded, which prompt judges to pass less sentence than the offenders rightly deserve.

  6. So...http://evchk.wikia.com/wiki/%E6%B3%95%E5%BE%8B%E9%9D%A2%E5%89%8D%EF%BC%8C%E7%AA%AE%E4%BA%BA%E5%90%AB%E6%92%9A

  7. You obviously are not a parent. Interestingly a Sexual Offenders Index was first suggested in 1997, but rejected by the government!!!!

  8. Not yet, not yet.

    If your children became a sexual offender, what would you say? Don't tell me it's not possible.

    And mind you, even if I change my mind upon parenthood, this piece might still be valid, because of the fallacy "Ad Hominem Tu Quoque".

    Let's put a few more "!!!" at the end to make it sounds more valid!!!!!!!!!

  9. No, it's not the same Anon (I did the second comment by the way).

    I offer a better reason why this labeling may be a bad idea without resorting to asking "what if your relative was one?"

    Putting a label on such offenders is a problem because these folks don't need a label, they need professional help. I care about justice and people who do bad things should rightfully be punished. People commit crimes for different reasons and yes I want to punch the egregious offenders in the face, but if we are going to buy into the rule of law as a way to punish them then at least play fair: locking them up and letting them serve their fair share of punishment and after their release saying, "Oh shit, sorry mate! We're not done with you yet!" isn't playing fair in my opinion.

  10. Geoff, you definitely told my view in a better way!

    But somehow I decided not to elaborate more in the comments...my intellectual laziness, I guess.

    And yes, maybe you should give us some guest posts sometime! Write us!


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