The long-awaited Law Reform Commission report on an archives law
6 May 2021
Given the ongoing destruction of RTHK's online archives and the fact that RTHK is a Government Department, there is renewed interest in the possibility of a Government archives law, something that then-candidate and now-Chief Executive Carrie Lam pledged to support in Feb-2017, at paragraph 2.13 of her manifesto:
2.13 I place great importance on the integrity of Government records and hold a positive position towards the passing of a law to that effect. The Government will follow up on this after receiving from the Law Reform Commission the report which it will compile with extensive consultation.
This refers to the Law Reform Commission (LRC) Sub-committee, formed in Jun-2013, to study a possible archives law for HK, which published a consultation paper on 6-Dec-2018 seeking responses by 5-Mar-2019. More than 26 months later, the LRC has yet to produce any conclusions report.
So Webb-site asked what they are up to, when the report would be issued, and given the lengthy delay, could they publish the responses in the meantime, while preparing the conclusions. Here is the response from Byron Leung Tung Wa, Secretary to the Sub-committee and Deputy Principal Government Counsel in the Department of Justice:
Thank you for your email dated 4 May 2021 enquiring about the progress of the Law Reform Commission (“LRC”) project on archives law.
As you have rightly pointed out, the Consultation Paper on Archives Law
sought responses by 5 March 2019. However, quite a number of respondents asked
for an extension for submission. We have received more than 1,000 public
responses, many of which are substantial. The details of these responses will be
set out in the Report on Archives Law.
The Archives Law Sub-committee has met regularly and diligently to consider the responses received and to work on the Report. We are pleased to say that the preparation of the Report has been progressing well. We understand that there is an expectation for the Report to be released as soon as possible. The LRC will endeavor to publish the Report at the earliest possible time. Please rest assured that the LRC, being an independent body, has been performing its functions strictly in accordance with the terms of reference.
In reply, we've asked the Secretary how many times and on what dates the Sub-committee has met to consider the responses received and to work on the report. We'll post an update if and when we get a reply. In the meantime, we'll leave you with this warning on what happens when archives are deleted:
"History has stopped. Nothing exists except an endless present in which the Party is always right." - George Orwell, 1984.
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