China has revealed some details of Hong Kong’s national security law and may be as bad as critics fear

On Saturday, the Chinese National People’s Congress (NPC), which is expected to pass the law in the coming weeks, gave Hong Kong its first look at what it contained. Critics may have the right to worry: As designed, the law strengthens the city’s award-winning independent legal system, which allows Beijing to override local laws and increase its ability to suppress political opposition.

Most controversially, the law empowered Beijing to authorize jurisdiction over selected criminal cases, making it the first time in Hong Kong history that suspects could be tried on the mainland and potentially deported in the face of prison time.

This was the fears of those who pulled protests against a return bill last year by the Hong Kong government. These protests eventually forced this law to be abandoned, but Beijing turned into a broader anti-government unrest requiring the implementation of new national security arrangements.

Antony DapiranA Hong Kong-based lawyer and political analyst described the new law as “capturing a broad-based power by Beijing” on many of the key elements of the government and society.

As he wrote on Twitter, the new law effectively established a parallel judiciary (and) removed his comment and final jurisdiction from the courts of Hong Kong. ”

In a statement, the city’s general manager, Carrie Lam, said the law would “ensure the long-term prosperity and stability of Hong Kong” and reiterated that “it would target only a very small minority” and the proposed bill was “in line with the rule of law” and “in Hong Kong. Rights and freedoms applicable under the Basic Law and related international conventions. “

New system

When Hong Kong was handed over from British to Chinese in 1997, the city’s common legal system remained largely intact. The precedent remained in force, and the new de facto constitution, Basic Law, and protections under various international treaties guaranteed an unprecedented degree of justice and freedom in China, where the conviction rate was 90% north.

While NPC gains the ability to “interpret” the Basic Law, actually re-writing in some casesthe central government had no jurisdiction over individual cases, and people could not be prosecuted for crimes against Beijing, which is illegal in Hong Kong.

The new national security law would change all of this. According to details released over the weekend, Chinese security bodies will have the power to exercise “jurisdiction” over “national security cases” under certain circumstances, while other prosecutions under the law are Beijing’s designated leader in the city.

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It is not clear whether the suspects could return to China’s mainland under these circumstances.

Although the draft refers to “the rule of law” and the promotion of various civil liberties, it subordinates the existing law to the national security bill, so that there is a national security law when there is a conflict. In practice, this may mean that these rights are suspended when a national security prosecution is against human rights protected under Hong Kong law.

After the Saturday announcement, Chinese law expert Jerome Cohen said: fired “Eye candy” in the human draft, “Many provisions in the draft (law) seem to violate these protections.”

“The handover was obviously the Takeover,” Cohen added.

Kevin Yam, a Hong Kong-based lawyer and former meeting of the Progressive Lawyers Group, I said The proposed law was not worth legal interpretation and added, “There is nothing to analyze.”

“It’s just everything they say,” he added. “And if something can’t do what they say when they want it, they’ll change it the way they want it.”

Judicial maneuvers

There are no suggestions for a real public involvement or a referendum on the bill, but multiple provisions emerged on Saturday Eliminating Hong Kongers’ fearsor at least to facilitate public sales.

Such provisions came with a visible push to Chinese companies to re-list the city’s stock exchanges and revive the local economy, as well as a huge propaganda effort to sell the bill, as well as posters and advertisements that encourage Hong Kong to roll up.

In particular, the creation of a panel nominated by Chief Executive Officer Carrie Lam to listen to national security cases could be a stick to alarms in reports that the bill would prevent foreign born judges from listening. As part of the broader common legal system, including the UK, Canada, Australia and some other jurisdictions, Hong Kong periodically assigns distinguished “non-permanent” judges To the Supreme Court.

These judges are appointed by the chief executive, but their presence in some cases is open to debate in China, which calls for their removal or prevents them from certain sensitive cases. By giving Lam the power to nominate judges to hear national security cases, the government essentially lifts this issue and allows him to choose the most loyal judges.

Hong Kong Bar Association Goddamn He pointed out that the plans would appoint a panel to oversee cases where Lam himself is a related party, as a “blowout” and a major blow to judicial independence.
Speak to local mediaPhilip Dykes, chief of the bar association, said the law was “a recipe for a conflict of interest” and that Lam would allow “picking cherries” where judges heard the most controversial cases.
Opposition lawmaker and lawyer Alvin Yeung, I said the proposal was “to separate clearly from common law traditions”.

Political prosecutions

Extending the power of Chinese courts and security services to Hong Kong worries even more.

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Allowing China’s security apparatus to operate in the city raises the specter of illegal persecution. Opponents and activists in China often disappear by officials or threatened to be arrested around sensitive incidents, and many journalists and lawyers are dragged to “get tea” with security consequences while receiving subtle threats about their potential consequences. their jobs.

Meanwhile, granting the jurisdiction of the Chinese courts “under certain conditions” will guarantee convictions in these cases. China’s legal system has been widely criticized for its human rights protection, bare political prosecution and an almost universal conviction rate. The country’s own national security law has been widely interpreted in the past as imprisoning activists, intellectuals and journalists.

Two canadians a trial for spying last week is a good example of this. Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor were arrested in late 2018 shortly after Huawei manager Meng Wanzhou was detained in Canada. While China argues that there is “solid” evidence against the two men, Canada sees the case as “arbitrary” and politically motivated.
Kovrig and Spavor are also examples of how national security legislation in China differs from that in democratic countries. For example Canada counter laws espionage and espionage and people are judged under them.
The difference is that these laws and related prosecutions should comply with the law. Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedomswhen the country is found to be unconstitutional by a draft of rights and by a court.
If the law proposal continues, this is not the case in China and may not be in Hong Kong soon. China, constitutionThese are subject to law, do not override. There is freedom of expression, religion and press principallyhowever, “It may not violate the interests of the state.”

Similarly, Hong Kong guarantees its rights under the Basic Law and by becoming a party to international conventions, but draft national security law overrides these protections.

Those who try to defend their constitutionally protected rights in China are often tried for national security reasons, such as Nobel Peace Prize winner Liu Xiaobo, who died in prison years later 2017 On charges of “provoking the collapse of state power”. Charter 08, Liu’s most famous work, co-author, asked the judges to “partially support the authority of the Constitution”.

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