THE FORMER TOP JUDGE of Canada is standing strong with Hong Kong’s legal sector. Staying in place is “what Hong Kong needs”, said Beverley McLachlin, who served as chief justice of the Supreme Court of Canada from 2000 to 2017, and now works in the city on the southern coast of China.
Hong Kong has long had one of the strongest common law judiciaries in the world, thanks to an international cast of top judges – with Ms McLachlin being a respected member.
The western media has recently highlighted the fact that two members, both British, have left the Hong Kong court – but have ignored the fact that the vast majority of members of the international judging team are staying in place, she said.
“What Hong Kong needs, and the bar tells us they need, is that court to remain in place, to remain independent and to remain strong,” she told an interviewer on CBC’s Power & Politics show this week.
Ms McLachlin’s views echo those of Lord (Jonathan) Sumption, who said last year that the overseas judges “will serve the cause of justice better by participating in the work of Hong Kong’s courts”.
Many media outlets allege that Hong Kong’s national security law is draconian, despite the fact that it is milder and less frequently used than the security laws of most other countries, including those of its most frequent critics, the United States and Britain. Hong Kong’s security law is more “human rights heavy” than equivalents elsewhere, but this is ignored by journalists, who write about it as if they have not read it.
“The court is completely independent and functioning in the way I am used [to] in Canada the courts functioning,” McLachlin told the program, according to a report on CBC’s website. “There’s no governmental influence, and if there were, I wouldn’t be there.”
Law professor Grenville Cross has also backed the majority members of the international judges panel, who are happy to continue to work in Hong Kong. “As with all the city’s judges, they are committed to upholding the rule of law, and it is a fatal mistake, as the signatories should have known, to assume they can ever be pushed around by politically motivated individuals bent on harming China,” he said recently.
Image at the top by Queen’s University/ Flickr/ CC2.0 licence