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Confession Statements and their Admissibility in Criminal Proceedings
(HKLRC Report)

The Commission's 1985 report on confession statements and their admissibility in criminal proceedings contains a number of proposals recommended to ensure that confession statements are properly taken from the accused, and that suspects in the custody of the law enforcement agencies are properly treated.

The central recommendation of the report is that a mechanism should be established to provide an accused person with an early opportunity to raise any complaint of ill treatment by the law enforcement agencies with an independent party. Accordingly, the Commission proposes that where the prosecution wishes to introduce evidence of a confession statement at trial, the accused must be brought before a Justice of the Peace within 24 hours of being charged. The purpose of this hearing before the Justice of the Peace is to give the accused the opportunity to raise any complaint as to his treatment since arrest. The report proposes that in the absence of any such complaint to the Justice of the Peace at that time, the confession statement would become automatically admissible (without the need for a voir dire) at the subsequent trial.

In addition to the above, the report puts forward a range of interconnected proposals relating to the police power of questioning, the warnings to be administered to suspects, and the rights of suspects held in police custody.

A majority of the Commission recommended that the judge and the prosecution should be allowed to comment to the jury on an accused's refusal to answer questions put by the police, and that the jury should be allowed to draw an adverse inference from that refusal.

Press Release (PDF) (MS Word)
Report (PDF) (MS Word)

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