Hong Kong like China: an official will decide who can enter and leave the territory

The new law is contested by the democratic movement. Bar Association: the executive can now prevent activists and political opponents from leaving, a decision that is up to the judges. Carrie Lam: the measure serves to contain illegal immigration. Fears for those with a British foreign passport.

Hong Kong (AsiaNews / Agencies) - The head of the City Immigration Office will be able to ban the entry and exit of people from the former British colony. The measure is contained in a bill approved yesterday by the local Parliament (Legco).

The measure is contested by the democratic front, which has boycotted the Legco sessions for months in protest against the expulsion of some anti-establishment deputies. The fear is that the authorities will apply the same kinds of bans that the Chinese central government uses to block the expatriation of humanitarian activists and political opponents. On the basis of the “one country, two systems” principle, Hong Kong should maintain a distinct political, economic and legal system to that of the “motherland”.

The Bar Association maintains that the new law grants discretionary powers to the immigration officer, a non-elective position. According to many jurists, it is up to the courts to decide who can enter or leave Hong Kong, not a bureaucrat.

Carrie Lam’s executive claims that the measure applies only to those arriving in Hong Kong and is necessary to combat illegal immigration. Several observers reply that the Immigration Bill is worded in such a vague way that it allows the authorities to prevent residents and travellers (including business travellers) from leaving the city. It is the same problem posed by the draconian national security law, the vagueness of which extends its field of action to all forms of dissent.

Democrats fear that the city government may now ban residents with a British foreign national passport from going to live and work in Britain I a further attempt to weaken the democracy movement. Since January London has allowed holders of this document to apply. About 2.9 million Hong Kong residents can benefit, plus 2.3 million dependents.