ANM wants transparency in communications interception

The New Macau Association (ANM) said at a press conference yesterday that proposed wire-tapping legislation should require the Court of Final Appeal (TUI) to regularly publish orders of interception of communication granted by all levels of Macau courts.

“During the open consultation period, the authorities have strongly reacted against the call for transparency in the future use of powers under the proposed communication interception law. Concepts such as civil law tradition and the particularities of the common law tradition were repeatedly invoked to argue against mechanisms for public oversight,” ANM said at a press conference yesterday.

“The New Macau Association urges the Macau authorities not to deviate from its usual interpretation of the principle of judiciary secrecy in criminal proceedings. It is an established practice of the police authorities to announce the numbers of opened criminal cases and named suspects,” ANM continued. “The availability of these numbers concerning ongoing investigations was by no means considered a violation of judiciary secrecy; so would the number of interception measures.”

The ANM also called attention to a statement published by the Judiciary Police on October 7, questioning the veracity of interception orders that the government has released to the public.

“The New Macau Association would like to remind government officials that they are not in a position to advise the public on what data might [or might] not be useful in monitoring their exercise of power,” said ANM.

“More importantly, the officials should change their adversarial attitude toward public oversight.”

The ANM reiterated that “new powers to intercept communications may not be granted to the police authorities, unless measures to guarantee transparency are put in place, in particular, regular publication of numbers of approved orders.”

The above was from a written statement delivered to Secretary for Security Wong Sio Chak yesterday afternoon.

“It [the public consultation] is not at the final stage, but somehow the Secretary for Security adopted some public opinions [during the consultation]; I hope that this piece of opinion will be automatically adopted by the Secretary for Security,” said ANM representative and lawmaker Sulu Sou.

“Macau residents should be aware of the trend of the expansion of powers of the branches under the leadership of Wong Sio Chak,” he warned, adding that he
“does not rule out organizing social activities” to express these opinions. 

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