Despite criticism, rule of law still strong

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Judges remain independent, legal expert says

HONG KONG’S LAWYERS and judges remain independent, the United Nations Human Rights Council in Geneva was told on Thursday. The city continues to run under the rule of law, said Dr. Henry Ho Kin-chung, a Hong Kong basic law expert.

Dr. Ho gave a robust response to widespread Western media claims about the alleged loss of legally protected freedoms in Hong Kong.

“Our government, which respects the rule of law and our common law tradition, would never exert pressure on any barristers to withdraw from any cases, as happened in the case of British Foreign Minister Dominic Raab,” he said.

He was referring to the case in which Raab strongly criticized British barrister David Perry, mistakenly thinking he was working on a national security case.

CHORUS OF VOICES

Dr. Ho also pointed out that there were numerous vague claims that China had violated the Sino British Joint Declaration. “Unfortunately they have never indicated which clause was violated,” he said.

Henry Ho Kin-chung was speaking at a side event of a United Nations Human Rights Council meeting.

He joins a chorus of voices pointing out that numerous reports that the government’s closure of Apple Daily showed the death of the freedom of the press in Hong Kong was quite wrong. The newspaper was closed by its own board members after some executives were accused of having violated subversion laws that exist in numerous countries.

HOPE AND CONFIDENCE

Many Hong Kong people have pointed out that their law, described as “Draconian”, is milder than that of other countries, including the United States which has a panoply of more than 20 laws covering national security.

“The National Security Law has brought law and order, hope and confidence back to this Asia’s world city,” said Dr. Ho, who founded and chairs the One Country Two Systems Youth Forum.

PUSHING BACK

Even some Western lawyers are pushing back against media claims that the national security law “destroys” Hong Kong legal system. 

“Until the first cases go to court and the first people are either convicted or acquitted and we read a judgment, we can’t be sure whether this is going to be regarded as a Draconian law or a perfectly acceptable national security law, the same as the equivalents in the United States, Australia and everywhere else,” Andrew Powner, managing partner of Haldanes, told the South China Morning Post.

Dr. Ho told the UN council that Hong Kong’s present arrangements remain in place. “Hong Kong people are confident that despite all sorts of unsubstantiated accusations from some western countries, One Country Two Systems remains the best political arrangement for Hong Kong, and also China, and it will continue to bring prosperity and stability to this city,” he said.

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