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THE LAW REFORM COMMISSION OF HONG KONG - page 56 / 360

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Child assessment

2.130Section 45A of the Protection of Children and Juveniles Ordinance provides for a child assessment procedure, where the Director has reasonable cause to suspect that a child or juvenile is, or is likely to be, in need of care or protection.  The evaluation of the child’s state of health or development, or of the way he has been treated, is to be done by an approved social worker, clinical psychologist or medical practitioner.  It is interesting that the term “psychiatrist” was not included.  An assumption could be made that it would be the doctor who would deal with the health issues and the other two professionals who would deal with the development issues.  A child or juvenile can be removed for the purposes of assessment for 12-36 hours.185

Criticisms of Protection of Children and Juveniles Ordinance (Cap 213)

2.131Section 34 has been criticised for restricting applications by interested persons, such as family members or neighbours.  They cannot apply unless authorised by the Director.  This would take time, and defeats what is presumably a principal purpose of the section, which is to protect children in emergency situations.

Wishes of the child

2.132There is no provision for the wishes of the child to be taken into account in the making of any orders.  The parent or guardian’s wishes can be taken into account in the requirements laid down in supervision orders under section 34A.  We have already seen that the matrimonial ordinances give powers to the court to order supervision orders, but no reference is made in those ordinances to similar provisions to section 34A or 34B.

Age

2.133The interpretation section of the Ordinance defines “child” as having the same meaning as in the Juvenile Offenders Ordinance (Cap 226), which in turn defines a child as a person under the age of 14 years.  Section 2 of the Protection of Children and Juveniles Ordinance defines “juvenile” as a person of 14 years of age or upwards and under the age of 18 years.  Section 34(6A) refers to an order under section 34(1)(b), (c) or (d) which is in force at the commencement of the 1978 amendments.  These respectively are: an order to commit a child to the care of any person or institution; an order for his parent or guardian to enter into recognizance to exercise proper care and guardianship; and an order placing the child under supervision.  These orders cease for a male child at the age of 16 years, and at 18 for a female unless she has married under that age.  Liu draws attention to the fact that this is in breach of article 20 of the Bill of Rights Ordinance.186

2.134Section 34(6B) provides that orders made after the commencement of the 1978 Ordinance under the subsections referred to above shall cease when the child or juvenile reaches 18 years or marries before that date.

185 Section 45A(5)-(7).

186 “The Protection of Children and Juveniles Ordinance: An Overview”, 1995 HKLJ, vol 25, Part 3, 343, 361.

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