法政匯思就選舉管理委員會於2016年7月14日發出的聲明

1.  法政匯思注意到選舉管理委員會(「選管會」)於2016年7月14日發出了新聞稿(「該新聞稿」)。簡單來說:

(1)  選管會要求在2016年立法會選舉中的參選人除了提名表格外,還要簽署一份單獨的聲明(「該聲明」),說明他們將擁護《基本法》和保證效忠香港特別行政區;

(2)  根據選管會,「擁護《基本法》」是指擁護《基本法》包括以下的規定:(a)第一條,香港特別行政區是中華人民共和國不可分離的部分。(b)第十二條,香港特別行政區是中華人民共和國的一個享有高度自治權的地方行政區域,直轄於中央人民政府。(c)第一百五十九(四)條, 本法的任何修改,均不得同中華人民共和國對香港既定的基本方針政策相抵觸。

(3)  該聲明也有說明,引用如果參選人在與選舉有關的文件中作出虛假聲明,須負上刑責。

2.  從該新聞稿看來,選管會認為如果他們相信參選人並不是「真誠地」簽署該聲明,他們具備宣佈提名無效的權力。

3.  法政匯思對該新聞稿的各個方面表示憂慮。

4.  根據《基本法》第二十六條及二十七條,香港特別行政區永久性居民享有被選舉的基本權利,亦享有言論自由。過往的法院裁決已明確表示,對基本權利的所謂限制必須作出狹義解釋。

5.  我們注意到《立法會條例》第40條訂明,除非提名表格載有或附有一項示明該人會「擁護基本法和保證效忠香港特別行政區的聲明」,否則任何人不得獲有效提名為立法會選舉的候選人。但是,按照上述的法律解釋原則,我們認為在定斷何謂未能「擁護基本法」或表示「效忠香港特別行政區」時,必須根據《基本法》所保證的基本公民權利(在這情況下,特別是第26及27條)而作出狹義解釋。

6.  在選管會還未清晰地顯示他們會怎樣執行該聲明前,法政匯思不希望在現階段就此該聲明製造過度的恐慌。不過,我們關注到以下未來可能會帶來憂慮的範疇:

(1)  2014年,國務院發表了一份關於一國兩制在香港運作的白皮書(「白皮書」)。當時,社會上有聲音(包括來自有知名度人士、團體與傳媒機構)稱香港的法官須宣誓保證效忠香港特別行政區以及愛國,我們亦注意到法官被視為違反該等誓詞的潛在法律責任。法政匯思擔心,選管會現時就2016年立法會選舉要求候選人簽署該聲明可以成為政府肆意濫用不同範疇的法定聲明而達到其政治目的的第一步。

(2)  肆意濫用選舉法例是在獨裁政權下常見的情況。法政匯思希望該聲明不會成為違法限制像被選舉權與言論自由等香港居民基本權利的第一步。

7.  因此,我們要求選管會在行使權力及履行職責時必須按照《基本法》所載的全部條文行使其職務與權力,尤其是該等具備重要的法律地位而又清楚訂明香港居民的基本權利的條文。

法政匯思
2016年7月15日

(1) 該新聞稿英文版本的連結

(2) 該新聞稿中文版本的連結

(3) 該聲明書的連結

 

The Progressive Lawyers Group’s Statement on the Press Statement by the Electoral Affairs Commission on 14 July 2016

1.  The Progressive Lawyers Group (“PLG”) notes that the Electoral Affairs Commission (“EAC”) issued a Press Statement on 14 July 2016 (“Press Statement”). In short:

(1)  The EAC requires candidates running for the 2016 Legislative Council Election to sign a separate declaration (“Declaration”), in addition to the nomination form for candidacy, that they will uphold (擁護) the Basic Law and pledge allegiance to (效忠) the HKSAR;

(2)  According to the EAC, “upholding the Basic Law” means upholding the Basic Law including the following provisions: (a) Article 1: The Hong Kong Special Administrative Region is an inalienable part of the People’s Republic of China; (b) Article 12: The Hong Kong Special Administrative Region shall be a local administrative region of the People’s Republic of China, which shall enjoy a high degree of autonomy and come directly under the Central People’s Government; (c) Article 159(4): No amendment to this Law shall contravene the established basic policies of the People’s Republic of China regarding Hong Kong.

(3)  There is also a reference in the Declaration to commission of an offence if the candidate makes a false declaration in an election related document.

2.  It appears from the Press Statement that the EAC takes the view that they possess the power to declare a nomination invalid if they believe that the candidate was not “bona fide” (meaning “good faith”) in signing the Declaration.

3.  The PLG is concerned about various aspects of the Press Statement.

4.  All permanent residents of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region have the fundamental right to stand for election in accordance with law under Articles 26 and 27 of the Basic Law, as well as the fundamental right to free speech. Past Court rulings have made it clear that any purported restriction on fundamental rights must be interpreted narrowly.

5.  We note that section 40 of the Legislative Council Ordinance (“LCO”) states that a person is not validly nominated as a candidate in a Legislative Council election, unless the nomination form includes or is accompanied by a “declaration to the effect that the person will uphold the Basic Law and pledge allegiance to the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region”. However, in light of the interpretive principle as noted above, we consider that what constitutes a failure to “uphold the Basic Law” or show “allegiance to the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region” must be construed narrowly, having regard to fundamental rights guaranteed by the Basic Law (in particular Articles 26 and 27 in the present context).

6.  The PLG does not at this stage wish to create undue alarm in relation to the Declaration until there is clarity as regards how it will be enforced by the EAC.  However, we do note the following as potential areas of future concern:

(1)  In 2014, the State Council issued a White Paper in relation to the operation of One Country, Two Systems in Hong Kong (“White Paper”).  At the time, in response to certain sections of the White Paper, various parties (including prominent individuals, groups and media outlets) spoke of need for Judges in Hong Kong to make oath that they will pledge their allegiance to the HKSARand to “love the country” (愛國), as well as potential legal liability where judges are considered not to have abided by such oaths. The PLG is concerned that the requirement now in 2016 for Legislative Council election candidates to sign the Declaration could be a first step towards a capricious use of such statutory declarations in different contexts to achieve political ends.

(2)  The capricious use of electoral laws is common in authoritarian regimes. We sincerely hope that the Declaration is not used as the first step towards an illegal restriction of fundamental rights in Hong Kong, such as that of  standing for election and of free speech.

7.  We therefore demand that the EAC acts in accordance with all provisions the Basic Law, especially those setting out fundamental rights of residents which are given paramount legal status, in the exercise of its functions and powers.
Progressive Lawyers Group
15 July 2016

(1) The English version of the Press Statement can be found here

(2) The Chinese version of the Press Statement can be found here

(3) The Declaration can be found here

Article was originally published in Stand News on 15 July 2016