SCMP Thursday, June 22, 2000

HUMAN SMUGGLING

SAR 'won't become transit point'

NO KWAI-YAN


Hong Kong's security and immigration chiefs are confident the SAR will not become a transit centre for the smuggling of illegal immigrants.

Secretary for Security Regina Ip Lau Suk-yee said she had contacted British authorities yesterday after the discovery of the 58 dead Chinese immigrants in the back of a truck and there was no evidence the SAR was involved.

"The mainland has been working closely with foreign countries. Apart from inspecting piers, they also exchange intelligence to see which gangs are involved," she said.

"The Government has sent our people too, along with the mainland's counterparts, to North America to help the local authorities investigate similar cases a few months ago."

Assistance from the SAR had also been offered to the mainland to step up publicity and education among mainlanders, the Secretary for Security said.

Director of Immigration Ambrose Lee Siu-kwong said he was shocked by the tragedy and felt sorry for the relatives of the victims. However, he was not worried that the SAR would become a transit centre for stowaway smuggling.

"Our enforcement agencies are very experienced and effective in combating smuggling".