Content: This Course deals with and provides understanding of basic rights and responsibilities of citizens in Hong Kong and other jurisdictions who are caught up in the criminal justice process and of their criminal justice institutions, such as the police, the courts and the prisons. What makes the process ‘fair’ and ‘just’ is questioned and in particular whether the ideals have been achieved in practice. The discussion assists the student to develop an understanding of crucial legal, ethical and social foundations of systems of criminal justice. The student discovers through discussion and research, the fundamentals of internationally acknowledged protections of human rights. Hong Kong and the justice system of other jurisdictions are compared. Vulnerable persons (women and children) need special regard. In particular, sexual and drug crimes will be examined. The student is asked, “What acts by citizens should be regarded and treated as ‘crimes?”. For instance, should killing to save lives and so on be crimes? The student will be also asked to examine what are the best methods of preventing crime and punishing it consistent with broader notions of justice. Consequently, a student will discover his or her ethical position in relation to important issues in our society. There is training in logical analysis, argument and presentation throughout the Course.
Methods: The Course emphasizes inquiry and discovery by each student, team discussion, and problem solving. The course asks for team work and team analysis and oral presentation in the class room. The student gains insight into the institutional safeguards of justice in the criminal process by a visit to two criminal courts and reporting on those visits. The Course comprises 2 hours of lectures and 1 hour of tutorials each week except for one clinical exercise.
This course aims to:
(a) arouse the curiosity of participants about the fundamental and necessary features of a fair and just system of criminal justice;
(b) encourage participants to explore and discover for themselves what are the requirements for and the features of a fundamentally ‘fair’ and ‘just’ criminal justice process in Hong Kong and other countries;
(c) provide participants with the ability to critically analyse and explain the workings of the criminal justice agencies and institutions (Department of Justice, police and the courts) in Hong Kong and how they work to protect freedoms and rights of Hong Kong citizens;
(d) raise participants’ critical awareness of the difference between the ‘theory’ and the practice of protection of basic rights of citizens caught up in the criminal justice process in Hong Kong and other jurisdictions. The treatment of vulnerable persons (children) and other persons caught up in the criminal process will be studied.
(e) provide, by case study and discussion, an understanding of what conduct ought to be labelled ‘criminal’ whilst appreciating that there are cultural differences to take into account. This adds to the student’s ability to apply his or her ethical awareness to important issues in our society. The student, by enquiry and discovery, develops an understanding of the important legal, moral, ethical and social foundations of systems of criminal justice.
(f) provide participants with skills in logical analysis and in presenting oral and written arguments.