Launching of Hong Kong's War Crimes Trials website
25 Dec 2010
The Hong Kong's War Crimes Trials Collection website http://hkwctc.lib.hku.hk created by Associate Professor Suzannah Linton of the Faculty of Law with the assistance of HKU Libraries, will be launched on December 25 (Friday).
The Collection's website provides details of, and access to, the database containing case files of 46 trials involving 123 persons who were tried in Hong Kong for war crimes committed during the Second World War. This priceless window into Hong Kong's past will enable much fresh and multi-disciplinary scholarship for years to come.
The four British War Crimes Courts in Hong Kong exercised jurisdiction over war crimes, meaning "a violation of the laws and usages of war committed during any war in which His Majesty has been or may be engaged at any time since the 2nd September, 1939". The courts dealt with cases from across Hong Kong, Kowloon and the New Territories, and also from Formosa (Taiwan), China (Waichow and Shanghai), Japan and on the High Seas. The subject matter spanned war crimes committed during the fall of Hong Kong, during the occupation and in the period after the capitulation following the nuclear bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, but before the formal surrender. They included killings of hors de combat, abuses in prisoner-of-war camps, abuse and murder of civilians during the military occupation, forced labour and offences on the High Seas.
The first trial, concerning the Silver Mine Bay Massacre on Lantau Island, began on 28 March 1946. The last judgement, in the matter of detainee abuses in Shanghai, was promulgated on 18 February 1949 having been passed on 20 December 1948. There were a total of 46 British war crimes trials in Hong Kong, of 123 individuals. Of the 46 judgements issued, 44 were confirmed against 108 individuals, with 14 acquittals. Two judgements were not confirmed: there was one retrial following non-confirmation of the judgement, and one judgement was not confirmed but transferred to the Supreme Court.
The website is part of a project funded by the Hong Kong SAR government's Research Grants Council. Other members of the HKU team involved in this project were Professor Linton's research assistants Ernest Ng, Dixon Tse and Janet Man, and also Dave Low and David Palmer from HKU Libraries.
RTHK is making a television documentary about Professor Linton's project for its Hong Kong Connections programme; it is expected to be screened in February 2011. Professor Linton is giving a public lecture on ‘Hong Kong's War Crimes Trials' at the Museum of Coastal Defence at Shau Kei Wan on 22 January 2011 (Saturday) from 3pm to 5pm. Discussions about the publication of a book about Hong Kong's War Crimes Trials are highly advanced.
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