China has revealed some details of Hong Kong's national security law and is as bad as critics feared

China has revealed some details of Hong Kong’s national security law and is as bad as critics feared

The law simply links a gap, they argued, and is no different from what many other countries have in the books. Local officials and prominent businesses threw their weight behind the bill – invisible – promising to leave the city better, and in any case, it would only affect a few people.
On Saturday, the National People’s Congress of China (NPC), which is expected to pass the law in the coming weeks, gave Hong Kong its first look at what it contains. Critics were right to worry: as it was written, the law would raise the city’s independent legal system, allowing Beijing to circumvent local laws while strengthening its ability to suppress political opposition.

More controversially, the law gives Beijing the power to exercise jurisdiction over selected criminal cases, raising the prospect that for the first time in Hong Kong’s history, suspects could be extradited to face trial and possibly time. imprisonment in the mainland.

Fears about this led to protests against a bill passed last year by the Hong Kong government. These protests eventually forced the law to be repealed, but turned into wider anti-government unrest that, according to Beijing, required the imposition of new national security regulations.

Anthony Dapiran, a lawyer and political analyst based in Hong Kong, described the new law as “Beijing’s broad responsibility” for many of the key elements of government and society.

Writing on Twitter, he said the new law “effectively creates a parallel judicial authority (and) takes the power of interpretation and final decision from the Hong Kong courts”.

New system

When Hong Kong was handed over from Britain to Chinese rule in 1997, the city’s common law system remained largely intact. The previous one remained in force and the protections under the new de facto constitution, the Basic Law, as well as various international treaties, guaranteed a degree of justice and freedom not seen in China, where the sentence rate is north of 90%.

While the NPC won the opportunity to “interpret” the Basic Law, essentially rewrite it in some cases, the central government had no jurisdiction over individual cases, nor could people be prosecuted for crimes against Beijing that were not illegal in Hong Kong. .

The new law on national security would change all that. According to details released over the weekend, Chinese security forces will have the power to “exercise jurisdiction” in national security cases “under certain circumstances”, while other prosecutions under the law will be heard by a panel of judges selected from Beijing. – appointed leader.

It does not explicitly state whether the suspects could face extradition to mainland China under such circumstances.

Although the draft referred to the defense of the “rule of law” and various political freedoms, it also submits the existing law to the national security bill, so that when there is a conflict, the law on national security prevails. In practice, this could mean that when a national security persecution violates human rights protected under Hong Kong law, those rights are suspended.

Writing after Saturday’s announcement, Jerome Cohen, a Chinese law expert, turned down the “eye candy” for human rights, noting that “the very provisions of the plan (law) seem to violate these protections.”

“Tradition has clearly become redemption,” Cohen added.

Kevin Yam, a Hong Kong-based lawyer and former adviser to Progressive Lawyers, he said the proposed law did not deserve legal interpretation, adding “there is nothing to analyze.”

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

Judicial maneuvers

Although there is no proposal for real public consultation or a referendum on the bill, many provisions unveiled on Saturday seem to be oriented relieves Hong Kong’s fears about it, or at least relax its sales to the public.

Such arrangements come amid a massive propaganda effort to sell the bill, with posters and advertisements promoting the Hong Kong smear, as well as an obvious push from Beijing for Chinese companies to reinstate the city’s financial stock market by strengthening it.

In particular, the creation of a committee appointed by CEO Carrie Lam to hear national security cases may have been serious for those who expressed concern that the bill would prevent foreign-born judges from hearing it. As part of the broader system of common law, which also includes the United Kingdom, Canada, Australia and some other jurisdictions, Hong Kong appoints periodically distinguished “non-permanent” judges at the Court of Appeal.

These judges are appointed by the CEO, but their presence in some cases has been controversial in China, leading to calls for their removal or exclusion from certain sensitive cases. By giving Lam the opportunity to appoint judges to hear national security cases, the government is essentially bypassing this issue, allowing her to select those judges who are considered more loyal.

The Hong Kong Bar Association has cursed plans as “extraordinary” and a major blow to judicial independence, noting that Lam will appoint a committee to oversee cases in which she is a party.
Speaking in local mediaThe head of the Bar Association, Philip Dix, said the law was a “conflict of interest prescription” and would allow Lam to “choose” which judges heard the most controversial cases.
Alvin Young, opposition lawmaker and lawyer, he said the proposal was “a clear departure from the common law tradition.”

Political persecution

The expansion of the powers of the Chinese courts and security services in Hong Kong raises even more concerns.

China’s security device operating license in the city is increasing the range of extraterrestrial pursuits. Disagreements and activists in China often disappear from the authorities or are threatened with arrest over sensitive events, and many journalists and lawyers are lured to “have tea” with the security services, during which they receive threats with subtle coverage. the possible consequences of their work.

Judicial jurisdiction of the Chinese courts “under certain circumstances”, meanwhile, will likely guarantee convictions in these cases. China’s legal system has been widely criticized for its lack of protection of human rights, naked political persecution and almost universal condemnation. The country’s national security law has been widely interpreted in the past to imprison activists, intellectuals and journalists.

Two Canadians who were prosecuted last week for espionage are a case in point. Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor were arrested in late 2018 shortly after the arrest of Huawei executive Meng Wanzhou in Canada. While China claims 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 of democracies. Canada, for example, has laws against espionage and espionage, and people have been prosecuted based on them.
The difference is that these laws and the corresponding prosecutions must comply with it Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, the country’s rights bill, and could be repealed if it was found that a court was unconstitutional.
This is not the case in China, and may not apply in Hong Kong any time soon if the bill goes ahead. While China has some rights to it constitution, they are subject to the law, not supremacy. There is freedom of expression, religion and the press in the first place, but “cannot violate the interests of the state.”

Similarly, Hong Kong guarantees rights under the Basic Law and by signing international conventions, but the national security law as drafted will prevail over these protections.

Those seeking to assert their constitutional rights in China are often prosecuted for national security reasons, such as Nobel Peace Prize laureate Liu Xiaobo, who died in 2017 after years in prison on charges of “inciting the overthrow of state power.” Liu’s most famous work, Map 08, of which he was a co-author, partially called on judges to be able to “support the power of the Constitution.”

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