The bill on immigration control contains one article that indicates an equal weight of criminality for illicit entry and illicit overstaying. The same article, due to its link to another article in the same bill, raised concerns among the members of the Third Standing Committee of the Legislative Assembly (AL).
Yesterday, the AL Third Standing Committee had another closed-door debate on the new bill introduced and sponsored by the Macau SAR government.
The lawmakers spent approximately two hours discussing the bill, the majority of which was focused on chapter five and chapter six, specifically articles 40 through 48. These articles mostly concern residence, illicit entry and illicit overstaying.
Chapter six, article 47, contains three clauses indiscriminately applicable to “illicit entry or illicit overstaying.” According to this specific provision, those convicted of illicit entry or illicit overstaying will be deported in accordance with the first clause, will remain in custody, or will have their travel documents confiscated. In accordance with the second clause, they must regularly present themselves to the police department, and will be banned from entry into Macau in accordance with the third clause.
“It seems that the motive to commit illicit entry is more mixed than for illicit overstaying,” said Vong Hin Fai, Chairman of the Committee, who also pointed out that the legal advisors of the Legislative Assembly raised concerns regarding the motive.
“One [illicit entry] is that the [offender] is aware of not having a legal document but still smuggles into the city. The other [illicit overstaying] is not leaving the city after the legal staying period is due. The degree of the severity is different,” Vong explained. “However, article 47 is equaling illicit entry with illicit overstaying. Then both convictions are indiscriminately subjected to the three legal aftermaths.”
The bill prescribes in chapter nine, article 68, that inciting or instigating others into committing illicit entry or illicit overstaying shall be punishable by a maximum of two years in prison.
Article 68 indicates that inciting or instigating illicit entry or illicit overstaying is a criminal act.
“However, according to currently in force laws, illicit entry or illicit overstaying do not constitute criminal offenses,” said Vong.
According to Vong, article 46 prescribes the definition of illicit entry and illicit overstaying, article 47 prescribes identical legal consequences for illicit entry and illicit overstaying, and article 68 prescribes the criminalization of inciting and instigating of illicit entry or illicit overstaying, stipulating further clarification and explanation from the government.
On January 13, the AL approved and passed the law with a quorum.
Residence may be revoked for ‘persona non grata’
Article 43 of the immigration control bill prescribes that once a person is regarded a “persona non grata” in accordance with clause one of article 23 of the same law, the residency of the concerned individual can be revoked with a dispatch signed by the Chief Executive.
Clause one of article 23 contains five categories of “persona non grata.” These include those prohibited entry by international treaties, those suspected of having a relationship with criminal organizations, especially triads, those suspected of international terrorism, those posing threats to Macau’s internal security, and those restricted by an administrative measure or a court verdict.
“Clause one of article 23 covers many definitions, all of which are quite abstract and widely applicable,” said Vong.