Secretary for Security Wong Sio Chak said Sunday that the government expects to launch a public consultation in July or August on the drafting of a bill regulating the tapping of telephones during police investigations into criminal cases.
Wong made the remarks while speaking to reporters on the sidelines of a graduation ceremony for 11 senior firefighters who each were awarded a bachelor’s degree for fire safety engineering by the Macau Public Security Forces Academy.
The ceremony took place at the academy in Coloane.
According to Wong, telephone tapping by the police is currently regulated by Articles 172 to 175 of the Penal Procedures Code.
Several years ago, legal experts proposed that Macau needs a single law regulating the tapping of telephones by the police, as telecommunications technology is constantly developing, and also because it is inappropriate to frequently amend the respective articles in the Penal Procedures Code as it is one of the major codes in Macau’s legal system, Wong pointed out.
According to Wong, Judiciary Police (PJ) officers have recently been studying the matter before finishing a draft bill on telephone tapping.
According to the Penal Procedures Code, the police are allowed to tap telephones only for certain crimes after obtaining formal approval from a judge who believes that tapping a telephone is very important for the officers to be able to collect evidence and discover the truth.
The crimes include those that are punishable by more than three years in prison, drug trafficking, crimes involving weapons and explosives, contraband, as well as crimes such as libel, coercion or intrusion into other
people’s private lives via telephone, according to the Penal Procedures Code.
Wong said that the government was proposing that the bill would keep the existing requirements for the police to be allowed to carry out telephone tapping in accordance with the Penal Procedures Code.
Wong said that the telephone tapping bill also includes rules about citizens’ protection of rights when police officers carry out telephone tapping.
The bill will have to be passed by the legislature to become law.
Meanwhile, Wong also said that a special department would be set up within the Judiciary Police to handle national security matters.