06/23/2020, 13.55
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New security law threatens the independence of Hong Kong’s judiciary

by Paul Wang

Hong Kong’s former Chief Justice Andrew Li criticises judges’s subrodination to chief executive and Beijing’s interference in "exceptional" security cases. According to pro-Beijing Hong Kong newspapers, local religious leaders, including Card Tong, "understand and support the national security law".

Hong Kong (AsiaNews) – The new security law that Beijing wants to impose on Hong Kong could undermine the independence of Hong Kong’s judiciary, notes former Chief Justice Andrew Li Kwok-nang in an article and interviews published today in various local media.

Li especially stressed the fact that the new security law provides for a special group of judges in charge of trials related to subversion, separatism, terrorism and collusion with foreign powers against Hong Kong and China. These judges would be selected by the Chief Executive, who would also chair a security commission.

For Andrew Li, this is "inappropriate" and would be "detrimental to the independence of the judiciary" because it puts the executive branch above the judiciary, rather than guaranteeing the latter’s independence. In China, the judiciary is subordinate to the Chinese Communist Party.

For Li, it is also unacceptable for China to claim the right to judge some crimes related to security, even in "exceptional" circumstances.

The Standing Committee of the National People's Congress, China’s parliament, met recently to draft the security law, which has not been released. Xinhua only published a few elements.

So far, the Hong Kong Bar Association, Protestant clergymen, the Hong Kong Journalists Association  and 86 world organisations have spoken out against the law. Many foreign governments have also expressed opposition or doubts.

Until now, Hong Kong’s religious authorities have not spoken on the matter, although some Catholics have complained that the new law threatnes religious freedom.

On Sunday, the Hong Kong Liaison Office[*] met with 50 religious leaders to present the security law. Card John Tong Hon, apostolic administrator of the diocese of Hong Kong, was one of them.

Hong Kong’s Catholic diocese has not yet issued any official statement. For now, only two pro-Beijing papers, Ta Kung Pao and Wen Wei Po, claim that the aforementioned religious leaders “understand and support the national security law.”

[*] Liaison Office of the Central People's Government in the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region.

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