THE PROGRESSIVE LAWYERS GROUP'S SHORT COMMENTARY REGARDING THE POLICE COMMISSIONER'S UNDERSTANDING OF THE DEFINITION OF "DOMESTIC VIOLENCE"
上星期六，警務處處長曾偉雄表示，「家庭暴力」 （簡稱 「家暴」） 只是指配偶或有親密關係的伴侶之間的暴力，如果不屬於這個範圍，例如只是親屬之間的暴力就不是家暴，所以家暴指引並不適用。
Last Saturday, Police Commissioner Andy Tsang Wai-hung said that "domestic violence" only refers to violence between spouses or partners who have an intimate relationship, and any violence beyond such types of relationship, such as violence between relatives, do not fall within the definition of domestic violence and are therefore not subject to guidelines in relation to domestic violence.
Mr Tsang is entirely wrong in his understanding of the definition of “domestic violence” and laws governing it. His comments also demonstrate his ignorance of the substantial revisions made by the Government to the relevant legislation in 2007-2008.
Under "The Policy for Prosecuting Cases involving Domestic Violence" issued by the Department of Justice in 2009, domestic violence includes any criminal offence which arises out of violence, threatening behaviour between family members.
In addition, the Domestic and Cohabitation Relationships Ordinance is the main legislation currently in force in relation to the issue of domestic violence. This Ordinance enables victims of domestic violence to apply, through civil proceedings, for injunction orders from the Court which restrains offenders from molesting or contacting the victims, in order to protect them from further harm. Under Sections 3, 3A and 3B of the Ordinance, all family members or relatives, including spouses, parents, children, siblings, uncles, aunts, nephews, nieces or cousins, as well as cohabitants, are equally protected under the Ordinance irrespective of age or gender.
The predecessor to this Ordinance was the Domestic Violence Ordinance, which came into force long ago in 1986. However, that Ordinance was criticised by women's groups and social welfare organisations as only protecting married couples and heterosexual cohabitants, and could not effectively deal with different types of domestic violence problems. The United Nations emphasised in a 2006 report that such legal loopholes had contributed directly or indirectly to domestic violence involving children and women. It was only after the domestic violence tragedy in Tin Shui Wai in 2004 that the Government finally responded to strong public pressure by proposing to amend that former Ordinance in 2007, under which an expansion of the scope of legislative protection was proposed. Finally, the draft amendments proposed by the Government expanded widely the definition of family relationships in domestic violence to cover all kinships, in other words, the definition of “relative” under section 3A of current Ordinance.
The Hong Kong Government has always observed a policy of “zero tolerance” towards domestic violence. Sadly, Mr Tsang’s comments not only revealed his misunderstanding and ignorance towards the scourge of domestic violence, they have also seriously misled the public and victims of domestic violence. Perhaps our police chief is even more in need of training on handling domestic violence cases than his frontline officers!
Progressive Lawyers Group
24 March 2015