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Crime Victim Assistance

Help for U.S. Citizen Victims of Crime in Hong Kong

United States Consulate General
Hong Kong SAR
24-hour telephone number: (852) 2523-9011
ACS Unit E-mail address: acshk@state.gov


Please see Help for U.S. Citizen Victims of Crime Overseas to read the Department of State's brochure for victims of crime.

November 22, 2013

Being the victim of a crime in a foreign country can be a devastating and traumatic experience. While no one can undo the emotional trauma, physical injury, or financial loss you may experience as a crime victim, the U.S. Consulate General Hong Kong is ready to assist you in managing the practical consequences of being a crime victim. We can provide you with information about accessing the local criminal justice system, and other resources for crime victims abroad and the in United States. This office can assist you to find appropriate medical care, contact family or friends on your behalf and explain how funds can be transferred. We can also help you to better understand the criminal justice system in Hong Kong, which is very different from the system in the United States.

The information included in this guide relating to the legal requirements in Hong Kong is provided for general information purposes only. The information may not be accurate or relevant to a particular case. Questions involving interpretation of Hong Kong laws should be addressed to legal counsel licensed to practice law in Hong Kong. The investigation and prosecution of the crime is solely the responsibility of local authorities. The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) may assist local authorities in certain cases of kidnapping, hostage-taking and terrorism.

REPORTING CRIMES: If you are a victim of crime, you should first report the crime to the Hong Kong Police by calling 999 or by making a report at any local police station. Additional contact information is available on the Hong Kong Police website. Addresses and maps to police stations can be found at Report Rooms of "Hong Kong Police - Contact Us". The Hong Kong police have officers who speak English, Cantonese, and Mandarin. Interpreters are available upon request. When the police are notified, they will provide you with information from the Hong Kong Social Welfare Department and the Criminal and Law Enforcement Injuries Compensation Scheme as well as contact emergency medical services if necessary. Police reports should be filed as soon as possible after the crime in order to preserve evidence. When you file a police report, the police will give you a copy.

If you are outside of Hong Kong, you may file a report by telephone or by fax or e-mail provided you provide contact information so the police can reach you. You may also authorize an attorney or someone else to file the report on your behalf.

You may need a police report to file for crime victim compensation or insurance reimbursement. If you have difficulties filing your police report with an official, please contact the Consulate immediately. If you file a report please send a copy to the Consulate, along with your address and phone number in the event we need to communicate with you. While we are not authorized to act as your legal representative, prosecutor, or investigator, our office can help you track the progress of your case and advise you of any developments.

INVESTIGATIONS: Many crime investigations never result in the arrest of a suspect. The Hong Kong Police Department is responsible for investigating crimes. The police will collect forensic evidence. The crime will be assigned a case number and given to a team with an officer in charge of the case. You can call at any time when the team is on duty to request an update on the case. If you receives threats, harassment, or intimidation by the accused or his/her family or friends you should report that to the police.

ARRESTS: After someone has been arrested for the crime, he/she will be taken to the police station nearest the place of arrest and charged and detained pending arraignment. At the arraignment, if the charge is serious, the judge may not allow bail, and the accused will be detained until a verdict is reached. The police will notify you every six months about the progress of your case. You may need to return to Hong Kong to identify the perpetrator in a police lineup.

PRETRIAL PERIOD: Depending on the charge, it might be a month or more before a trial can take place. High Court cases take longer to come to trial than District Court cases. This delay can result from the need by local authorities to further investigate the case, from the crowded Court docket or the need for further Court procedures. The police will seek the advice of the Department of Justice before charges are filed. A judge will decide if the case will go to trial. For a criminal case, the Department of Justice is responsible for the prosecution. Initially, cases are heard in the Magistrates Court, and more serious cases are transferred to District or High Court. Plea bargaining is permitted. For the prosecution, the Government Counsel acts as the "Minister of Justice," and his role is to present the evidence fairly. He may take your situation into consideration but does not advocate on your behalf. You may hire an attorney to get advice about the legal process. In the event that the government finds there is not sufficient evidence to charge the perpetrator but you still want to pursue a case, you may apply for a "Private Prosecution," which is between you and the perpetrator. A Private Prosecution must first be approved by the Secretary of Justice.

TRIAL: The average criminal trial lasts two to seven days, but the length depends upon the number of perpetrators, the amount of evidence, and the number of witnesses to be heard. You will act as a prosecution witness. It is likely that you will be asked to return to the Hong Kong to testify at the trial. If you live in the United States and do not want to or cannot return to Hong Kong to give testimony, the Hong Kong Department of Justice may send a "letter of request" to have you give recorded testimony in the United States. Criminal cases are heard in open court, except in the case of bail hearings, pre-trial reviews, or sensitive, confidential government issues. Typically, anyone, including the media, members of the public, or consular officers may be present at the trial. The hearing/trial is conducted in English or Cantonese. The court will provide translation for witnesses who do not speak English. Criminal trials are by jury.

SENTENCING: If the accused is found guilty, the sentence is usually pronounced on the same day, except in the case that a special report needs to be submitted (e.g. social welfare report or dangerous drugs report). You may submit a "Victim's Impact Statement" to the judge before the sentencing hearing. The sentence will be served immediately.

APPEALS: If found guilty in Magistrate's Court, the accused may request a review of the conviction and/or sentence imposed immediately after conviction and sentencing. The case will be reviewed by the same judge who imposed the sentence. During the review, the accused will be given the opportunity to bring forth any elements of the case that the judge may have overlooked or might not have been aware of at the time of conviction and/or sentencing. After reviewing these elements, the judge will announce the decision in court. The judge may set aside the conviction or reduce or suspend the sentence. In the event that the reviewing judge does not set aside the conviction or reduce or suspend the sentence or chooses not to seek a review at all, the accused can appeal to the High Court. If the case was heard in District Court or High Court, the accused may appeal to the Court of Appeal. The accused will have the opportunity to state the reasons why the conviction should be set aside or the sentence imposed is considered harsh or punitive. The Court of Appeal decision may take many weeks. Generally, the judge's decision will be the final word on the case. The appeal process can take weeks or months. You are expected to testify again during the appeal. In accordance with the Hong Kong Victims of Crime Charter, you have the right to ask to be notified of the offender's pending release or escape from penal custody provided that you have given the Commissioner of Correctional Services his current address and telephone number. For further information about crime victims' rights in Hong Kong please the see the Victims of Crime Charter (PDF 419 KB).

ATTORNEYS: You may want to consider hiring a local attorney to secure appropriate legal guidance. Local legal procedures differ from those in the United States. Although the Government Counsel is responsible for prosecuting your case, an attorney you hire can promote your interests with the police and the court. While we cannot recommend specific attorneys, the U.S. Consulate General in Hong Kong can provide you with a list of attorneys who have expressed interest in representing U.S. citizens. This list is available on the Internet at Lists of Legal Services Providers in Hong Kong and Macau.

VICTIM COMPENSATION IN HONG KONG: The Hong Kong Criminal and Law Enforcement Compensation (CLEIC) Scheme provides financial compensation for victims of crime who suffer serious injuries that have resulted in at least three days' loss of earnings or capacity to work or to dependents of victims who died in the course of the crime. Grants for criminal injuries are available for burial, death, disability, injury and interim maintenance; amounts are based on a standardized scale. Filing must be made within three years of the date of the crime. Foreign nationals, including tourists, who are legally present in Hong Kong are eligible to apply for compensation. Complete information can be found at: Criminal and Law Enforcement Injuries Compensation (CLEIC) Scheme or by contacting the Criminal and Law Enforcement Injuries Compensation Section, Social Welfare Department, Room 703, 7/F, Wu Chung House, 213 Queen's Road East, Wanchai, Hong Kong, Telephone: (852) 2838-6079, 2892-5220, 2892-5222, or 2892-5223, Fax: (852) 2575-7938, E-mail: grcleic@swd.gov.hk

In the U.S. there are 25 States that pay compensation to their residents who are victims of violent crimes overseas. Information about each State's crime victim compensation program and how to apply for compensation is available on the Internet at the web site of the National Association of Crime Victim Compensation Boards and National Association of VOCA Assistance Administrators.

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION:

CONSULATE LOCATION: U.S. citizens living or traveling in Hong Kong are encouraged to register with the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate through the State Department's travel registration website so that they can obtain updated information on travel and security within Hong Kong. U.S. citizens without Internet access may register directly with the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate. By registering, U.S. citizens make it easier for the embassy or consulate to contact them in case of emergency. The U.S. Consulate General is located at 26 Garden Road, Central, Hong Kong, 24-hour telephone number (852) 2523-9011, direct line to American Citizen Services during regular business hours is (852) 2841-2211, fax (852) 2845-4845, e-mail address: acshk@state.gov. The U.S. mailing address is PSC 461, Box 5, FPO, AP 96521-0006. Please check the U.S. Consulate General Hong Kong website, for current office hours.

SPECIAL INFORMATION FOR CASES OF SEXUAL ASSAULT AND RAPE: Physical evidence is very important in sexual assault cases, and can deteriorate as time passes. Therefore, you should not change clothes, avoid bathing if possible, and have a physical exam at the first opportunity. You should take these steps even if you are unsure about whether to report the crime to police. If you decide to pursue a prosecution at a later time, these steps preserve evidence that will assist the prosecutor. A consular officer or after-hours duty officer from the U.S. Consulate may be able to accompany you for the medical exam.

In Hong Kong, there are laws against rape and indecent assault as well as other sexual offenses. Under Hong Kong law, the definition of rape is a man having unlawful sexual intercourse with a woman who at the time of the intercourse does not consent to the intercourse, and the man knows that she does not consent, or he is reckless as to whether she consents. Indecent assault can be perpetrated by either a man or a woman.

The Hong Kong Police Department will authorize and provide referrals for forensic sexual assault exams in Hong Kong. The decision to have a forensic exam is up to you, however, in all cases, a medical exam will be provided free of charge, including tests for sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) and HIV as well as a prescription for emergency contraception (the "Morning After Pill"). The forensic exam, if desired, will be performed by a forensic doctor and normally includes a pelvic exam, genital areal swabs, fingernail scrapings, blood samples, saliva samples, etc. You are permitted to bring a support person. If you decide not to have the exam, there may be insufficient evidence to prosecute the assailant; however charges can be filed without an exam.

You should get medical attention to determine if you have been injured in any way and to discuss treatment and prevention options for pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases. A doctor in Hong Kong can prescribe emergency contraception (the "MorningAfter Pill") or emergency HIV prophylaxis (anti-HIV cocktail). The U.S. Consulate General can provide you with a list of local doctors. A list of doctors is also available on the internet at Lists of Medical Providers in Hong Kong and Macau.

If you are a female, the police will assign a female officer to the case, who will interview and accompany you to the medical exam. If you need shelter or counseling services, you will be referred to the Hong Kong Social Welfare Department, and a social worker will be assigned to the case. Acquaintance rape (date rape) is taken seriously in Hong Kong. Spousal rape is also a crime. Rape in Hong Kong is defined as perpetrated by a man against a woman. Sexual assault by a woman against a man is not considered rape but would be considered indecent assault.

Under the Privacy Data Ordinance of Hong Kong, there are laws that protect the identity of sexual assault survivors. There is little media attention paid to sexual assault crimes.

The Hong Kong Social Welfare Department supports several 24-hour hotlines for victims of domestic violence and sexual assault:

All will assist tourists as well as residents.

In addition, there are several Non-Government Organizations that can provide assistance to victims of domestic violence and sexual assault:

  • RainLily - Helpline: 2375-5322 (M-F 9am-10pm, Sat. 9am-1pm, closed Sundays but voicemail is monitored by a social worker). RainLily works with Kwong Wah Hospital, Waterloo Road, Yau Ma Tei, 2332-2311.
  • Association Concerning Sexual Violence Against Women - Hotline: 2375-5322 (M-F 9am-10pm, Sat. 9am-1pm, closed Sundays, public holidays except the first three days of the Chinese New Year). The Association can provide English-speaking social workers.
  • SoulTalk - a Hong Kong Charity for all women in emotional / relationship crisis. Women of all nationalities, cultures and languages are welcome. 24-hour Hotline: 2525-6644 for immediate counseling, a support group, and face to face counseling. The organization also provides free housing if necessary.

SPECIAL INFORMATION FOR CASES OF DOMESTIC VIOLENCE: Domestic violence is considered a crime in Hong Kong. A victim of domestic violence can get a protection/restraining order by filing a request with the District Court. Court orders are enforced by the Hong Kong Police. Secure domestic violence shelters are available in Hong Kong. Shelters normally have 40 to 60 beds. Shelters can take clients on a walk-in basis, but you must be assessed by a social worker to determine if you qualify for the shelter. Information about shelters is available from the Social Welfare Department by 2343-2255.

Stalking is not considered a crime in Hong Kong.

The Hong Kong Social Welfare Department supports several 24-hour hotlines for victims of domestic violence and sexual assault:

All will assist tourists as well as residents.

In addition, there are several Non-Government Organizations that can provide assistance to victims of domestic violence and sexual assault:

  • RainLily - Helpline: 2375-5322 (M-F 9am-10pm, Sat. 9am-1pm, closed Sundays but voicemail is monitored by a social worker). RainLily works with Kwong Wah Hospital, Waterloo Road, Yau Ma Tei, 2332-2311.
  • Association Concerning Sexual Violence Against Women - Hotline: 2375-5322 (M-F 9am-10pm, Sat. 9am-1pm, closed Sundays, public holidays except the first three days of the Chinese New Year). The Association can provide English-speaking social workers.
  • SoulTalk - a Hong Kong Charity for all women in emotional / relationship crisis. Women of all nationalities, cultures and languages are welcome. 24-hour Hotline: 2525-6644 for immediate counseling, a support group, and face to face counseling. The organization also provides free housing if necessary.

SPECIAL INFORMATION FOR CASES OF CHILD ABUSE: The Child Protective Services Unit (CPSU) of the Hong Kong Social Welfare Department (SWD) is responsible for the protection of children in Hong Kong. The CPSU provides outreach, investigation, early intervention, statutory protection, casework and group work services for child abuse victims whose safety is endangered by the action or neglect of their parents or caregivers that results in physical or psychological harm, gross neglect and sexual exploitation of the child To assist the abused children and their families, support services, including clinical psychological services, childcare services, residential childcare services, home help services, family aide service, etc., are available. For further information on family and child welfare services, contact the SWD Information and Public Relations Unit at 2892 5323 or Social Welfare Department.

Suspected child abuse should be reported to the Hong Kong Police. If a U.S. citizen child is a victim of physical or sexual abuse, he or she will be placed in a shelter as referred by the Hong Kong Social Welfare Department (SWD). The SWD will assign a social worker to the child victim and will arrange for any necessary medical examinations. The child would be expected to testify if the abuser is charged with a crime. The Child Protection Special Investigation Team (CPSIT), formed by the Child Protective Services Units (CPSUs) and the Police, conduct video recorded interviews with child abuse victims in order to reduce trauma caused to a child during the investigation process and court proceedings. Through the Witness Support Program, a support person is assigned to and accompanies the abused child throughout the proceedings. The child gives evidence through a live television link system.

In Hong Kong, professionals are not required by law to report suspected child abuse.

SPECIAL INFORMATION FOR CASES OF HOMICIDE: In the case of a homicide in Hong Kong, the coroner determines whether an autopsy is necessary to determine the cause of death.

Surviving family members are not usually able to participate in the prosecution of a homicide case in Hong Kong; however, they are generally permitted to attend the trial. The case is between the government, as represented by the Government Counsel of Department of Justice, and the assailant. If the Government Counsel finds that there is insufficient evidence for a case, the surviving family members may apply for a "Private Prosecution" against the perpetrator. A Private Prosecution must first be approved by the Secretary of Justice.

 

Last modified: February 19, 2014

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