Secretary for Administration and Justice Sonia Chan Hoi Fan said last week that the government aims to submit a bill amending the Judicial Organisation Framework Law to the legislature next month, which proposes that all principal officials charged with a criminal offence will be tried by the Court of Second Instance (TSI).
Chan made the remarks while speaking to reporters at Largo do Senado on Friday on the sidelines of the opening ceremony of the “Lawyers’ Day” organised by the Macau Lawyers Association (AAM). The three-day event, which ended yesterday, provided residents with free legal advice.
The Judicial Organisation Framework Law took effect on the establishment day of the Macau Special Administrative Region (MSAR) on December 20, 1999.
According to Article 50 of the Macau Basic Law, Macau’s principal officials comprise the government’s policy secretaries, anti-graft commissioner, audit commissioner, head of the Unitary Police Service (SPU) and chief of the Macau Customs Service.
According to the current version of the Judicial Organisation Framework Law, the chief executive and his policy secretaries charged with a criminal offence stand trial at the Court of Final Appeal (TUI), while the other four principal officials face their first-instance trial at the Court of Second Instance.
Speaking to reporters on Friday, Chan said that the amendment bill proposes that all the nine principal officials accused of a criminal offence will stand trial at the Court of Second Instance in the first instance. She said the proposal aimed to tackle the issue that currently they do not have the right to appeal after they have been tried by the city’s top court in the first instance.
According to the amendment bill, the principal officials would have the right to appeal to the Court of Final Appeal.
According to Chan, the bill proposes, however, that the chief executive facing his or her first-instance trial at the Court of Final Appeal remains unchanged. This would mean that he or she would be denied the right of appeal.
However, according to The Macau Post Daily, legal experts have insisted that any defendant in Macau should have the right to appeal in accordance with Article 40 of the Macau Basic Law.
Article 40 refers to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights which states that “everyone convicted of a crime shall have the right to his [or her] conviction and sentence being reviewed by a higher tribunal according to law.”