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Immigration law claims rebutted

The Hong Kong Special Administrative Region Government strongly deplores the misrepresentation made by the Canadian Government concerning the Immigration (Amendment) Ordinance 2021 which took effect on August 1.   The Security Bureau made the statement today after the Canadian Government, in the update of its travel advisories for Hong Kong, made accusations that the ordinance's provisions are vaguely defined and might restrict individuals from leaving Hong Kong.   The statement noted that the legal amendment, which empowers the Secretary for Security to make regulations in relation to the provision of passenger information by carriers, is to fulfil the Hong Kong SAR’s obligation under the Convention on International Civil Aviation to implement the Advance Passenger Information (API) system.   According to the convention, all its members should put in place the API system with legal backing. Based on the relevant requirements, airlines need to provide passenger and crew member information to the Immigration Department before flight departure to Hong Kong.   It will only apply to flights heading to Hong Kong, the statement emphasised, noting that so far over 90 countries have the API system in place, including Canada, the European Union member states, the US and Australia.   Hong Kong residents’ freedom to travel and right to enter or leave the city are guaranteed under Article 31 of the Basic Law. The Legislative Council has undertaken a detailed review on each provision of the amendment ordinance.   In respect of the background and purpose of the system and provision, the Hong Kong SAR Government has addressed the questions in detail. Time and again it has explained clearly to the public, and written to foreign consulates in Hong Kong that the system is intended to require the provision of passenger information on flights heading to Hong Kong, not the flights departing the city.   In accordance with the standards proposed by the International Civil Aviation Organization, the Hong Kong SAR Government is studying, having regard to overseas experience, the overall operational arrangement for the API system in Hong Kong, and will make relevant subsidiary legislation.   It will consult the Legislative Council on the subsidiary legislation and system arrangement in due course. The API system will be rolled out only after the council has scrutinised and passed the subsidiary legislation, and approved the funding for developing the required system.   The statement added that the Canadian Government disregarded the detailed explanation by the Hong Kong SAR Government on the API system in the past, and deliberately misrepresented the legislation's background and purpose, making false and misleading statements.   The bureau expressed strong dissatisfaction and called on the Canadian Government to modify its stance.
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