(Please scroll down for English version)

有關高速鐵路香港段一地兩檢安排的陳述書

法政匯思

A. 引言及總括立場

  1. 政府最近宣佈其就内地-香港高速鐵路香港段的邊境管制安排及管轄權事宜的方案。簡單而言,政府建議於西九龍站設置邊境及海關管制設施的一地兩檢安排,及内地在西九龍站若干範圍內及所有運作列車上擁有刑事管轄權。
  2. 法政匯思認為該建議明顯及直接違反《基本法》的多項條款,特別是第17、18、19及22條。我們的立場如下。

B,《基本法》的精神

  1. 《基本法》的序言列明,設立香港特別行政區以及頒佈《基本法》是為落實「已由中國政府在《中英聯合聲明》中予以闡明」的「國家對香港的基本方針政策」。
  2. 《中英聯合聲明》的第3(2) 及(3)條及附件一進一步列明,香港享有「除外交和國防事務屬中央人民政府管理外」的「高度的自治權」,以及享有「行政管理權、立法權、獨立的司法權和終審權」。《中英聯合聲明》第1條亦將「香港」不可分割及沒有限制地定義為「包括香港島、九龍和新界」。
  3. 「一國兩制」的概念不僅保留香港原有實行的社會政治制度,亦明確承認中華人民共和國和香港的法律制度乃植根於差異偌大的規範價值上。香港的制度強調通過法律實行管治,其中包括:(1)行政、立法及司法機關之間的權力分立; 和(2)受憲制保護的基本權利。
  4. 因此,全國人民代表大會(「全國人大」)在中華人民共和國憲法第31條授權下於1990年採納《基本法》作為一項全國性法律,並成立香港特別行政區,以落實上述「港人治港」的基本政策。
  5. 《基本法》的各條文已闡明賦予香港的高度自治。[1] 中央政府只有在外交[2]及防衛香港抵抗武裝攻擊等範疇上才於香港直接行使管轄權。[3]

C. 第17181922條的意義和效力

  1. 基本法》第二章中的第17、18、19及22條等條款,規範中央政府和香港的關係。

C.1    17

  1. 《基本法》第17條(以及《中英聯合聲明》第3(3)條及附件一第二部份)規定,香港特別行政區(「特區」)享有立法權。[4]雖然香港立法機關制定的法律須報予全國人民代表大會常務委員會(「人大常委會」)備案,但備案不影響該等法律的生效。如人大常委會在徵詢基本法委員會後,認爲該等法律不符合《基本法》關於(1)中央政府管理的事務,或(2)中央政府和特區的關係之條款,人大常委會只可將該等法律發回,但不作修改。
  2. 因此,即使是人大常委會也不可為香港立法。人大常委會只可發回不符合《基本法》並且是關於(1) 中央政府管理的事務;或(2) 中央政府和特區的關係的法律。
  3. 由此可見,第17條以賦予香港(即使是人大常委會也不能代替)的立法權,強化香港的高度自治和「一國兩制」的原則。

C.2     18

  1. 《基本法》第18條明確地規定了適用於特區的法律:
  • 《基本法》第18(1)條(及《基本法》第8條、《中英聯合聲明》的第3(3)條及附件一第二部份)規定香港原有的法律(包括普通法及條例) 繼續有效。
  • 第18(2)條規定全國性法律皆在香港實施,只有列於附件三的例外,而這些全國性法律亦必須由特區於本地公布或立法實施。
  • 第18(3)條限制了人大常委會把全國性法律列入附件三的權力。首先,此權力只限於實施有關(i)國防、(ii)外交、及(iii)「其他按[《基本法》]規定不屬於香港特別行政區自治範圍」的全國性法律。其次,全國性法律必須在徵詢特區政府後才予以實施。
  1. 因此,除非該法律有關(i)國防、(ii)外交、及(iii)「其他按[《基本法》]規定不屬於香港特別行政區自治範圍」,並已列入附件三及經本地立法實施,全國性法律顯然不可在特區實施。

C.3     19

  1. 《基本法》第19條(及《中英聯合聲明》第3(3)條及附件一第三部份)規定特區享有獨立的司法權和終審權。除(1)原有法律制度和原則所限制,或(2)國防、外交等國家行為外,香港法院對特區內所有的案件均有管轄權。
  2. 此獨立的司法權及司法機關的組成已在第80至96條中詳細地列出,當中並容許從其他普通法地區聘用外籍法官,法院亦可參考其他普通法地區的司法判例。香港法院只在案件牽涉(1)中央政府管理的事務或(2)中央政府機關和特區的關係時,才需要根據第158條提請人大常委會解釋有關的《基本法》條款。
  3. 顯然而見,第19條亦落實「一國兩制」的原則,授予香港法院司法管轄權以處理所有特區境內,不論刑事或民事的案件。將司法管轄權從香港法院移除並交予另一地區的法院,直接違反第19條的明文規定。

C.4     22

  1. .第22條規定:(1)中央政府所屬各部門、各省、直轄市均不得干預特區根據《基本法》自行管理的事務;及(2)中央政府在特區設立的一切機構及其人員必須遵守特區的法律。
  2. 中國憲法規定全國人大是最高國家權力機關。即使是國家的行政機關亦由全國人大設立,並需向全國人大負責及受其監督。《基本法》由全國人大通過,不只是香港的憲法,亦是中央政府的行政機關需遵守的全國性法律,因此即使中央政府的行政機關亦「不得干預香港特別行政區根據《基本法》自行管理的事務」。
  3. 因此,第22條作為全國性法律的一部份,明確禁止任何內地官員(不論來自中央政府的任何部門或地方政府)在特區境內執行內地法律或職務。

C.5     《基本法》的其他條文

  1. 除了第17、18、19及22條外,以下的《基本法》條文亦有關並應一併參閱:
  • 第2及12條規定香港實行高度自治並享有行政管理權、立法權和獨立的司法權;
  • 第8條指出「香港原有法律,即普通法、衡平法、條例、附屬立法和習慣法,除同本法相抵觸或經香港特別行政區的立法機關作出修改者外,予以保留」;
  • 第27至35條及第41條保障香港居民與在特區境內人士之基本權利和自由,包括不受任意或非法逮捕、拘留、監禁之權利,或不受酷刑(第28條)和得到秘密法律諮詢和選擇律師及時保護自己法律權益的權利(第35條);
  • 第39條保障《公民權利和政治權利國際公約》於香港適用,包括公平審訊的權利;
  • 第106及108條規定特區應實行獨立的徵稅制度,而中央政府不在特區徵稅;
  • 第106條確定「香港特別行政區為單獨的關稅地區」;
  • 第154條指出「 對世界各國或各地區的人入境、逗留和離境,香港特別行政區政府可實行出入境管制」;和
  • 第159(4) 條規定「本[基本]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」,亦即《基本法》之序言及《中英聯合聲明》之附件一內所列的基本方針政策。
  1. 一併參閱和理解上述所有《基本法》條文後,唯一可能的解讀是香港特別行政區在英國先前管治的區域上設立,並於「一國兩制」的原則下獲授予高度自治,包括立法權及獨立司法權。《基本法》亦保障所有身處特區的人士的基本人權,包括其不受任意逮捕、拘留、酷刑與獲得公平審訊之權利。

D. 對政府方案之分析

D.1    方案違反《基本法》多項條文

  1. 政府建議將西九龍站地底三層的部份區域租賃予內地並連同運作中的列車車廂組成「內地口岸區」。此安排聲稱是為了容許內地官員於西九龍站地底兩層實施邊境及海關管制。內地法律(除了六項有關民事法律管轄之事項如港鐵與乘客之間的合約及保險之外)將適用於這些區域及所有特區境內運作中之列車車廂。於執行職務期間,內地邊防人員將享有全國性法律賦予的所有權力,包括有權逮捕、拘留和把任何被逮捕人士移交內地作進一步拘留、調查及檢控。內地法院對所有牽涉到全國性法律的事項都享有司法管轄權,例如:刑事司法管轄權。
  2. 上述闡釋,第17條與第18條規定香港被賦予立法權力,而且全國性法律不適用於香港,除非是有關國防、外交或「其他按[《基本法》]規定不屬於香港特別行政區自治範圍的法律」。
  3. 政府的方案牽涉到於西九龍站部份指定樓層及所有列車上執行和實施大部份全國性法律。這些全國性法律大多不涉及國防、外交或其他不屬於香港自治範圍的事項。反之,如上所述,第8條、第106條、第108條、第116條及第154條清楚列明這些事項,如香港原有法律(其中包括但不限於刑事法律)、徵稅(包括實施進口稅和消費稅)、海關及入境管制均屬於香港自治範圍。
  4. 因此:
  • 政府就內地口岸區提出有關全國性法律適用於香港的程度,遠遠超過現時根據《基本法》附件3所實施的範圍。 任何企圖於香港全境或任何部份(在《中英聯合聲明》 下,香港的地域範圍是不可分割且沒有限制的) 加入未納入《基本法》附件3的全國性法律都是違反 《基本法》第18條並因此是違憲的。
  • 即使將更多的全國性法律納入《基本法》附件3,亦不能糾正上述有關內地口岸區的違憲情況。 如上所述,現時所建議將於內地口岸區實施的全國性法律範圍並不是香港自治範圍以外的事項。 《基本法》第18(3)條明文規定,只有不屬於香港自治範圍的全國性法律才可以列入附件3。
  1. 此外, 《基本法》第19條規定香港享有獨立的司法權而且香港法院對香港特別行政區所有的案件均有審判權。 如剔除香港法院對香港特別行政區境內特定範圍的司法管轄權並將之授予內地機關,是明顯地違反了 《基本法》第十九條。
  2. 而且,《基本法》第22條列明中央政府所屬各部門、各省和直轄市均不得干預特區自行管理的事務, 而且其人員於特區境內均須遵守特區的法律。 因此容許內地人員在香港行使全國性法律是明顯違反了《基本法》第22條。
  3. 無論如何,在內地實行的刑事法律和香港的刑事法律有基本上的差異。內地機關在作出拘捕、拘留及使用武力等方面都比香港當局擁有更大的權力,尤其是香港並沒有內地 é行政拘留û 這個概念。於香港實施此等權力明顯違反《基本法》所保障的眾多基本人權,例如不受任意逮捕、拘留的權利及得到秘密法律諮詢及公平審訊的權利。
  4. 在香港實行內地刑事法律不僅違反 《基本法》第 17條、第18條及第19條;就內地口岸區的情況而言,也違反《基本法》中賦予香港境內人士基本人權保障的條文,包括但不限於《基本法》第 28條、第35條及第39條。

D.2    《基本法》第20條無法挽救政府建議的合法性

  1. 特區政府宣稱全國人大常委會可依照 《基本法》第20條授予香港特區額外權力,設立內地口岸區並賦予內地機關權力在內地口岸區範圍內執行全國性法律,嘗試挽救其建議中的合法性問題。
  2. 法政匯思認為任何由人大常委會依照《基本法》第20條賦予香港的額外權力必須受制於《基本法》,並因此不可違反《基本法》的其他條文,否則《基本法》的完整性及統一性便會受到侵蝕,甚至名存實亡。政府違憲的建議並不會因為這些花招而變成合憲,而只會違反中國在香港實行「一國兩制」和高度自治的基本方針。
  3. 無論如何,將司法管轄權從香港的部份範圍剔除並容許全國性法律在香港實施在實質上並非賦予香港額外的權力。剛剛相反,這是從香港方面移除權力及司法管轄權。《基本法》第20條不應是掩飾損害香港高度自治以及公然違反《基本法》條文的工具。
  4. 政府在其建議中引用深圳灣口岸的安排,作為劃分「口岸區」供對岸行使司法管轄權及依照 《基本法》第20條賦予香港額外權力的先例。[5]
  5. 可是,基於下述原因,引用深圳灣口岸作為先例不但不恰當,而且具誤導性:
  • 深圳灣地區向來都屬於內地的一部份,而《基本法》並不適用。反之,西九龍站及高鐵隧道位處的土地向來都屬於香港境內,並從1997年7月1日起適用 《基本法》。
  • 政府於2007年在立法會商議《深圳灣口岸港方口岸區條例草案》期間接受議員的提問時曾清楚承諾, 任何根據《基本法》第20條賦予的額外權力,必須符合《基本法》,而且不能剝奪香港特區受《基本法》保護的權利。 [6] 如上分析, 政府現時建議根據《基本法》第20條所獲得的「額外權力」 違反了《基本法》內的眾多條文,更剝奪了特區在《基本法》下受保障的權利。政府現時的建議正正是其所承諾不可在《基本法》第20條下作出的。
  1. 政府就內地口岸區的相關建議似乎並不是以確保符合《基本法》為最終目的,我們對此尤其關注。相反,透過將人大常委會作為實施內地口岸區計劃中的法律機制核心步驟,政府只是設法繞過香港法院對建議是否符合《基本法》一事的裁決權。當中,由於任何聲稱由人大常委會根據《基本法》第20條批准設立及實施內地口岸區的決定 (以及根據該等決定所訂立的本地法例) 將構成或源於「國家行為」,香港法院對此事將失去司法管轄權。[7]
  2. 令人擔憂的是,這樣引用《基本法》第20條將賦予人大常委會另一方式去決定《基本法》及香港法例的內容及範疇,實際上等於法令統治一樣不受制約的權力。此前人大常委會已於2016年12月行使了《基本法》第158條的釋法權力,除解釋了《基本法》第104條中依法宣誓的含義外,更訂明香港本地法例內有關宣誓程序的詳細要求。凡此種種,皆令人憂慮香港未來法律和憲制的確定性。法治的關鍵正正在於法律規則清晰肯定,這對於香港能維持其作為國際金融中心的地位極爲重要。
  3. 總括而言,政府就內地口岸區的建議將違反《基本法》及《中英聯合聲明》所保證的「一國兩制」的精神和香港的高度自治,以及兩者清楚而明確的條文。

E. 比較外國與內地及香港的安排

  1. 政府亦於建議中援引外國之間的安排,例如美國和加拿大之間的安排、英國和法國之間就歐洲之星的安排,及內地與香港於深圳灣口岸就海關和出入境的安排。在提及這些例子時,政府嘗試辯解其內地口岸區的建議在其他地方亦有採用,故不應引起爭議。然而,法政匯思認為其他地方的安排在法律和憲制上跟內地口岸區的安排不能相比:
  • 美國與加拿大之間以及英國與法國之間的安排均涉及有權任意為其國家立法的獨立主權國家。相比之下,內地和香港政府雙方都必須遵守《基本法》。任何類似的安排,都會違反上述保證香港實行「一國兩制」及高度自治的《基本法》和《中英聯合聲明》的精神和條文。
  • 至於在深圳灣口岸實施香港法律的情況,則不能與目前提出的內地口岸區相提並論。內地沒有憲法或其他法律禁止於其境內實施香港法律,但《基本法》卻明確規定內地法律不在香港境內實施。
  1. 就上述提到的北美和歐洲例子而言,我們也注意到作出這些安排的主權國家均認同相約的人權標準,亦對人權作出相約的保障 (儘管這一點和上述的基本憲制性問題無關)。因此,即使另一國家的官員在限制區域內行使邊境管制和海關拘留的權利,這些國家仍可以相信其公民的人權不會受到實質的損害。可以這麼說,內地與香港對基本權利的保障根本上是不可相比的。
  2. 為求立論完整,我們以下將提到其他就出入境和海關作出較嚴謹安排的國家,這些國家之間的安排是可供香港參考的例子:
  • 在新加坡和馬來西亞之間,乘坐馬來西亞鐵路的北行乘客可以在新加坡的兀蘭火車站接受新加坡的出境檢查及馬來西亞的入境檢查,但南行的乘客必須在馬來西亞的新山中央車站接受出境檢查,然後在兀蘭火車站完成新加坡的入境檢查。要注意的是,這種安排是自新加坡獨立以來新加坡和馬來西亞之間獨有的歷史和法律環境下產生的。而且無論如何,這些國家的憲法中亦沒有可以與上述《基本法》條文相比的內容。
  • 另一個例子是芬蘭和俄羅斯之間、連接芬蘭首都赫爾辛基和俄羅斯聖彼得堡的高速鐵路Allegro Express。在兩地火車總站之間有四個中間站在芬蘭及一個中間站在俄羅斯。雖然兩國保留出入境和海關管制,但是實質檢查站只設在芬蘭其中一個中間站(距離邊境最近的那一個)及俄羅斯的中間站,為在該兩個站上落火車的乘客進行出入境檢查。至於在總站及其他中間站上落火車的乘客,兩國邊防人員會在火車上進行出入境及清關手續(即“車上檢”)。這樣的安排大大減少乘客排隊進行邊境管制所需的時間(在最後一個站上車或在第一個站下車的乘客除外) ,亦不涉及任何司法管轄權問題。

F. 和涉及領事館的情況作比較

  1. 有些人認為政府的建議就像向外國領事館出租土地,而這些土地亦不受特區當局的干預。
  2. 但是,我們認為外國領事館的例子跟現在的情況很不一樣,並因為以下原因不能相提並論:
  • 有關領事館享有的豁免權和特權源自外交政策,亦即中央政府根據《基本法》擁有專屬控制和決定權的範圍。因此,《中華人民共和國外交特權與豁免條例》(「該條例」) 根據《基本法》附件3在特區實施。香港的領事關係條例(「本地條例」) 便是使該條例生效的本地法例。兩者都是因為要促使《維也納領事關係公約》(「維也納公約」) 在香港具有法律效力而頒佈的法例。中國是維也納公約的簽定國。
  • 除了保障領事館官員的豁免權,維也納公約、該條例和本地條例亦訂明領事館範圍不得侵犯。因此,本地的官員或執法機構不能自由進出領事館執行其職務。但是,此原則並不代表香港法例在領事館不適用。相反,香港法例仍然適用。而且,在總領事館的同意下,香港官員可進入領事館範圍執行香港法律。任何人在領事館內干犯任何罪行,均可被香港警察拘捕和在香港法院被起訴。
  • 根據維也納公約、該條例及本地條例,領事館官員可在領事館範圍執行領事工作,例如發出簽證/護照及根據國際協定和規定,代派遣國法院收集證據。但是,領事館工作並不包括海關控制,遑論刑事管轄權。
  1. 所以,政府目前的建議安排不可與領事館的情況相提並論,尤其政府的建議還包括允許在西九龍總站和行駛列車上施行內地海關法和刑法。

G. 替代方案

  1. 政府有明顯的替代方案可以在不違反《基本法》和犧牲法治的情況下實施邊境控制,例如之前政府表明已預留空間在廣州或深圳設置口岸。[8]
  2. 但現在政府卻宣稱考慮過其他方案而所有這些方案都行不通,或經濟上不可行。
  3. 例如,政府以列車上沒有足夠空間及香港到福田的車程太短為理由,拒絕車上檢。[9] 政府亦認為傳統的兩地兩檢方案不合適 。[10]
  4. 不過,政府似乎並無考慮同時使用在列車上通關和兩地兩檢的混合模式,例如類似俄羅斯和芬蘭的安排運用到從廣東省以外開出或在廣東省以外作終站的長途列車上。由於長途車程較長而車上的空間較多,乘客便可以在車上辦理過關手續,這樣的安排亦能縮短乘客在內地邊境輪候時間。至於其他於廣東省內往返深圳和廣州的列車,則可使用傳統兩地兩檢方案。
  5. 儘管可能對內地機關構成一定的額外成本,這混合方案初步來看是可行的。而且,這個操作模式不會像現在政府的建議一樣影響香港的司法管轄權或違反《基本法》。
  6. 因此,我們的確有其他不違反《基本法》並切實可行的通關方法,儘管可能涉及一定的成本或經濟上的些微不便。法政匯思作為一個律師、法律系畢業生及學生的團體,雖然並不適宜從操作層面上贊同任何建議,但我們懇請政府探討所有可能的其他辦法,以確保最終方案符合《基本法》的精神和條款。

法政匯思

2017年9月18日

[1]    基本法列明如下:第2條授權香港實行 「高度自治行政管理權、立法權、獨立的司法權」;第3條列明行政及立法機關「由香港永久性居民…組成」;第12條列明香港作爲中華人民共和國的一個地方行政區域應享有高度自治權;第16條確認行政機關自行處理地區性行政事務;第17條授予立法機關為香港制定法律的權力;第19條賦予香港獨立的司法機關和終審權;第22條防止中央政府干預香港根據基本法自行管理的事務;第23條授予香港就國家安全法頒佈法律的權力;第26條賦予居民選舉權和被選舉權;第27至34條保障基本權利;第39條確保及保障《公民權利和政治權利國際公約》(“ICCPR”)在香港的適用;第159條規定,「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 [意指聯合聲明] 相抵觸。」 此外,香港有自己的區旗和區徽、獨立的財政及稅收制度。

[2]       基本法第七章列明香港在某些對外事務的範疇有自治權,如世界貿易組織的貿易關係、訂立關於經濟事務的雙邊條約之權力。

[3]    基本法第13及14條。

[4]     該立法權於基本法第63至79條更詳細規定。

[5]    見特區政府提交供立法會討論的文件第47段 < http://www.legco.gov.hk/yr16-17/english/hc/papers/hccb2-1966-1-e.pdf >

[6]     見法案委員會報告第20段 <http://www.legco.gov.hk/yr06-07/english/bc/bc55/reports/bc550425cb2-1626-e.pdf> 以及刊載時任保安局局長李少光於 2007年4月25日演講辭的政府新聞稿 <http://www.info.gov.hk/gia/general/200704/25/P200704250279.htm&gt;

[7]    香港特別行政區 v 馬維騉 [1997] HKLRD 761; 吳嘉玲及其他人訴入境事務處處長 (No 2) [1999] 1 HKLRD 577.

[8]    根據2008年4月22日立法會簡報第19段 <http://www.legco.gov.hk/yr07-08/english/panels/tp/tp_rdp/papers/tp_rdp-thbtcr11658199-e.pdf>

[9]    根據提交立法會文書附件第17至18段 http://www.legco.gov.hk/yr16-17/english/hc/papers/hccb2-1966-1-e.pdf

[10]   根據提交立法會文書附件第19至23段  <http://www.legco.gov.hk/yr16-17/english/hc/papers/hccb2-1966-1-e.pdf>

******************************************

Submission on Express Rail Link Co-Location Arrangement

Progressive Lawyers Group

A. Introduction and Executive Summary

  1. The Government has recently announced its proposal on the border control arrangements and jurisdictional matters in relation to the Mainland-Hong Kong Express Rail Link (“XRL”). In short, the Government proposes a co-location arrangement of border and customs control facilities at West Kowloon Station and the Mainland to have criminal jurisdiction to be exercised at some areas of West Kowloon Station and on all operating trains.
  2. The Progressive Lawyers Group (“PLG”) is of the view that such proposal is in clear and direct contravention of numerous provisions of the Basic Law, in particular, Articles 17, 18, 19 and 22. We set out our position as follows.

B. The Spirit of the Basic Law

  1. The Preamble of the Basic Law states that the establishment of the HKSAR and the promulgation of the Basic Law are to implement the “basic policies of the People’s Republic of China regarding Hong Kong” which “have been elaborated by the Chinese Government in the Sino-British Joint Declaration” under the principle of “one country, two systems”.
  2. Article 3(2) & (3) of and Annex 1 to the Sino-British Joint Declaration further states that Hong Kong enjoys “a high degree of autonomy, except in foreign and defence affairs which are the responsibilities of the Central People’s Government” and be vested “with executive, legislative and independent judicial power, including that of final adjudication. The laws currently in force in Hong Kong will remain basically unchanged”.  Article 1 of the Sino-British Joint Declaration also defines “Hong Kong” indivisibly and without qualification as “including Hong Kong Island, Kowloon and the New Territories”.
  3. The concept of “One Country Two Systems” does not only preserve the socio-political systems previously practiced in Hong Kong, but also represents an express recognition that the PRC and the Hong Kong legal systems are rooted in fundamentally distinct normative values. The Hong Kong system emphasises governance through law which entails: (1) the functional separation of powers between the executive, legislative and the judiciary; and (2) constitutionally protected fundamental rights.
  4. The National People’s Congress as empowered by Article 31 of the PRC Constitution therefore established the HKSAR by adopting the Basic Law in 1990 as a piece of national law, which expounds the above fundamental policy of “Hong Kong People administering Hong Kong”.
  5. The high degree of autonomy conferred upon Hong Kong is enshrined in numerous provisions in the Basic Law.[1] It is only in areas such as foreign affairs[2] and the defence of Hong Kong against armed attack that the Central Government has direct jurisdiction over Hong Kong.

C. Meanings and Effects of Articles 17, 18, 19 and 22

8. [3]Articles 17, 18, 19 and 22 of the Basic Law are provisions under Chapter II which governs the relationship between the Central Government and Hong Kong.

C.1    Article 17

  1. Article 17 of the Basic Law (and also Article 3(3) of the Sino-British Joint Declaration and Part II of Annex 1 thereto) provides that the HKSAR shall be vested with legislative power.[4] Although laws enacted by the legislature of Hong Kong must be reported to the Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress (“NPCSC“) for record, such reporting shall not affect the entry into force of such laws.  The NPCSC may only return the law in question but not amend it if it considers, after consultation with the Committee for the Basic Law, that such law does not conform with the provisions of the Basic Law (1) regarding affairs within the responsibility of the Central Government; or (2) regarding the relationship between the Central Government and the HKSAR.
  2. Hence, even the NPCSC cannot legislate for Hong Kong. The NPCSC may only return law which does not conform with the Basic Law and are regarding (1) affairs within the responsibility of the Central Government; or (2) the relationship between the Central Government and the HKSAR.
  3. Article 17 therefore reinforces Hong Kong’s high degree of autonomy and the principle of “One Country Two Systems” by vesting Hong Kong with legislative power which even the NPCSC cannot supplant.

C.2    Article 18

  1. Article 18 of the Basic Law clearly sets out the law to be applied in the HKSAR:
  • Article 18(1) (as in Article 8 of the Basic Law and Article 3(3) of the Sino-British Joint Declaration and Part II of Annex 1 thereto), provides that the law previously in force in Hong Kong (including the common law and pre-existing legislation) remains in force.
  • Article 18(2) provides that national laws shall not be applied to Hong Kong except for those listed under Annex III. Such national laws shall be applied only by way of local promulgation or legislation.
  • Article 18(3) restricts the power of the NPCSC to apply national laws to Hong Kong via Annex III. First, the power is confined to apply national laws relating to: (i) defence; (ii) foreign affairs; and (iii) “other matters outside the limits of the autonomy of [the HKSAR] as specified by [the Basic] Law”.  Secondly, national law is to be applied only after consultation with the HKSAR Government.
  1. It is thus clear that national laws must not be applied in the HKSAR unless they relate to: (i) defence; (ii) foreign affairs; and (iii) “other matters outside the limits of the autonomy of [the HKSAR] as specified in [the Basic] Law”; and are included in Annex III and incorporated by local promulgation or legislation.

C.3    Article 19

  1. Article 19 of the Basic Law (and Article 3(3) of the Sino-British Joint Declaration and Part III of Annex 1 thereto) provides that the HKSAR shall be vested with independent judicial power, including that of final adjudication. The Courts of the HKSAR shall have jurisdiction over all cases in the Region, except (1) any restriction imposed by the legal system and principles previously in force in Hong Kong or (2) cases concerning acts of state such as defence and foreign affairs.
  2. Such independent judicial power and the composition of the Judiciary is provided in detail in Articles 80 to 96, which allow foreign judges to sit in the Hong Kong Courts and allow Hong Kong Courts to refer to precedents of other common law jurisdictions. Hong Kong Courts are only required under Article 158 to seek interpretation from the NPCSC on the relevant article of the Basic Law if the case in question concerns affairs which are (1) the responsibility of the Central Government, or which (2) concern the relationship between the Central Authorities and the HKSAR.
  3. Article 19 therefore also enshrines the principle of “One Country Two Systems” and provides jurisdiction to the Hong Kong Courts over all cases, whether criminal or civil, which occur within the HKSAR. To remove jurisdiction from the Hong Kong Courts and to confer the same to Courts of another region would be in direct contravention of Article 19.

C.4    Article 22

  1. Article 22 provides that: (1) no department of the Central Government, province or municipality may interfere in the affairs which the HKSAR administers on its own in accordance with the Basic Law; and (2) all personnel and offices of the Central Government within the HKSAR must abide by the laws of Hong Kong.
  2. The Chinese Constitution stipulates that the National People’s Congress is vested with all powers of the State. Even the executive authorities are established by, responsible to and subject to the supervision of the National People’s Congress. Given that the Basic law passed by the National People’s Congress is not only the mini-constitution of Hong Kong, but also national law, even the executive authorities of the Central Government must comply with the Basic Law and “shall not interfere in the affairs which the HKSAR administers on its own in accordance with this Law”.
  3. Article 22, being a piece of national law, therefore clearly prohibits any officials of the Mainland, whether from any department of the Central Government or local government, from executing duties under or enforcing laws of the Mainland within the HKSAR.

C.5    Other Articles of the Basic Law

  1. In addition to Articles 17, 18, 19 and 22, the following provisions of the Basic Law are also relevant and should also be read together:
  • Articles 2 and 12 which provide that Hong Kong exercises a high degree of autonomy and enjoy executive, legislative and independent judicial power;
  • Article 8, which states that “[t]he laws previously in force in Hong Kong, that is, the common law, rules of equity, ordinances, subordinate legislation and customary law shall be maintained, except for any that contravene this Law, and subject to any amendment by the legislature of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region”;
  • Articles 27 to 35, and 41, which guarantee the fundamental rights and freedoms of Hong Kong residents and persons within the HKSAR, including the rights against arbitrary or unlawful arrest, detention or imprisonment, or torture (Article 28) and the rights to confidential legal advice and choice of lawyers for timely protection of their legal rights (Article 35);
  • Article 39, which guarantees the application of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (“ICCPR”) in Hong Kong including the right to fair hearing;
  • Articles 106 and 108, which provides that the HKSAR shall practise an independent taxation system and the Central Government shall not levy taxes in the HKSAR;
  • Article 116, which confirms that “[t]he Hong Kong Special Administrative Region shall be a separate customs territory”;
  • Article 154, which states that “[t]he Government of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region may apply immigration controls on entry into, stay in and departure from the Region by persons from foreign states and regions”; and
  • Article 159(4), which provides that “no amendment to [the Basic] Law shall contravene the established basic policies of the PRC regarding Hong Kong”, i.e. the basic policies as declared in the Preamble of the Basic Law and Annex 1 to the Sino-British Joint Declaration.
  1. Reading and understanding all the above provisions of the Basic Law together, the only possible interpretation is that the HKSAR is established over the area of Hong Kong previously ruled by the British and is granted a high degree of autonomy, including the legislative power and independent judicial power, under the principle of “One Country Two Systems”. The Basic Law also guarantees all persons physically within the HKSAR their fundamental human rights, including the rights against arbitrary arrest, detention, torture and the rights to fair hearing.

D. Analysis of the Government’s Proposal

D.1    Violations of various Articles of the Basic Law

  1. The Government proposes that certain areas of the three bottom levels of the West Kowloon Station to be leased out to the Mainland which would together with the operating train compartments form the Mainland Port Area (“MPA”). This arrangement is said to facilitate the border and customs control to be exercised by the Mainland officials on two of the bottom levels of the West Kowloon Station.  PRC laws (except 6 areas of civil law governing e.g. contracts and insurance between MTR and passengers) will be applied in these areas and all operating trains within the HKSAR.  In the exercise of such duties, the Mainland officials will have all powers under national law, including the power of arrest and detention and to transfer any arrested persons to the Mainland for further detention, investigation and potentially prosecution.  The Mainland courts will have jurisdiction over all the matters in which PRC laws apply, i.e. including criminal jurisdiction.
  2. As explained above, Articles 17 and 18 provide that Hong Kong is vested with legislative power and no national law can be applied in Hong Kong unless they concern defence, foreign affairs or “other matters outside the limits of the autonomy of [the HKSAR] as specified in [the Basic] Law”.
  3. The Government’s proposal involves the exercise and practice of most national laws on certain levels of West Kowloon Station and all operating trains. Most of such laws do not concern defence or foreign affairs or any other matters that fall outside of Hong Kong’s autonomy.  In particular, as noted above, Articles 8, 106, 108, 116 and 154 clearly states that pre-existing laws (which would include, amongst other things, criminal law), taxation (which would include the imposition of import duties and excises), customs and immigration controls are matters which fall squarely within Hong Kong’s autonomy.
  4. As such:
  • The scope of application of national laws in Hong Kong as now proposed by the Government in connection with the MPA go well beyond that which are currently applied in Hong Kong under Annex III of the Basic Law. Any attempt to impose national laws in the entirety or in any part of Hong Kong (the area of which is indivisible and unqualified under the Sino-British Joint Declaration) that are not already included in Annex III is contrary to Article 18 of the Basic Law and therefore unconstitutional.
  • This unconstitutionality cannot be cured in the context of the MPA by seeking to add further national laws into Annex III of the Basic Law. The areas of national laws that are currently proposed to be imposed in the MPA are, as noted above, not matters that fall outside Hong Kong’s autonomy.  Article 18(3) makes clear that only national laws that fall outside Hong Kong’s autonomy can be added to Annex III.
  1. Moreover, Article 19 provides that Hong Kong is vested with independent judicial power and Hong Kong Courts have jurisdiction over all matters within the HKSAR. To remove jurisdiction in the designated areas within the boundary of the HKSAR and confer the same upon the Mainland authorities obviously violates Article 19.
  2. Further, Article 22 provides that all departments of the Central Government, provinces and municipalities must not interfere with the self-administration of the affairs of the HKSAR and any such official must abide with the laws of Hong Kong when they are allowed to enter the HKSAR. Therefore allowing officials from the Mainland to exercise national laws in Hong Kong is in clear breach of Article 22.
  3. In any event, the criminal law applied in the Mainland is fundamentally different from the criminal law of Hong Kong. The powers of arrest, detention and use of force exercisable by the Mainland authorities are potentially wider than those by Hong Kong authorities.  In particular, the concept of administrative detention is alien to Hong Kong.  To exercise such powers in Hong Kong are clearly incompatible with many fundamental human rights protected by the Basic Law, such as the rights against arbitrary arrest and detention and the rights to confidential legal advice and fair hearing.
  4. To apply national criminal law in Hong Kong would not only contravene Articles 17, 18 and 19; in so far as the MPA is concerned, it also violates other provisions of the Basic Law which afford people within Hong Kong territory protection of fundamental human rights, including but not limited to, Articles 28, 35 and 39.

D.2    Article 20 of the Basic Law cannot salvage the legality of the Government’s proposal

  1. The Government has attempted to salvage the legality of its proposal by receiving additional powers from the NPCSC allegedly pursuant to Article 20 of the Basic Law to set up such MPA and confer jurisdiction upon the Mainland authorities to exercise national laws within the MPA.
  2. The PLG is of the view that any additional power that Hong Kong may be granted by the NPCSC under Article 20 of the Basic Law must be subject to and must therefore not contravene other provisions of the Basic Law. To do otherwise would erode the integrity and consistency of the Basic Law and make a mockery of its very existence.  That which is unconstitutional cannot be made constitutional by a sleight of hand.  It would be in breach of the basic policies of “One Country Two Systems” and high degree of autonomy to be practiced in the Hong Kong.
  3. In any event the removal of jurisdiction from parts of its soil and to allow national laws to be applied in Hong Kong is not in substance additional powers conferred upon Hong Kong. It is exactly the opposite, namely removing powers and jurisdiction from Hong Kong.  Article 20 should not be used to cloak the actual derogation of powers from Hong Kong and the direct breaches of provisions of the Basic Law.
  4. The Government has in its proposal used the arrangement at Shenzhen Bay Port as a precedent for demarcating a “port area” for the counterpart to exercise jurisdiction and for Hong Kong to be granted additional powers pursuant to Article 20.[5]
  5. However, to use the Shenzhen Bay Port as a precedent is not only inappropriate but also misleading for the following reasons:-
  • Basic Law does not apply to Shenzhen Bay area which has always been part of the Mainland. On the contrary, the soils of the West Kowloon Station and the tunnel of the XRL have always within Hong Kong territory where the Basic Law has since 1st July 1997 applied.
  • The Government has expressly promised when it answered questions from Legco members during the deliberation of the Shenzhen Bay Port Hong Kong Port Area Bill in 2007 that any additional powers granted under Article 20 “have to be consistent with the Basic Law, and cannot deprive the HKSAR of the rights protected under the Basic Law.[6] As analysed above, the current Government Proposal to be granted “additional powers” by virtue of Article 20 contravenes various fundamental articles of the Basic Law and will deprive the HKSAR of the rights protected under the Basic Law.  The current Government Proposal is therefore exactly what the Government explicitly stated that it is not allowed to do under Article 20.
  1. We are additionally concerned that the ultimate object of the Government’s proposal in relation to the MPA appears not to be the ensuring of its adherence to the Basic Law. Rather, by making the NPCSC a central part of its legal mechanism for implementing the MPA, the Government is merely seeking to take the question of adherence to the Basic Law away from the Hong Kong Courts.  This would be done by virtue of the assertion that any decision of the NPCSC under Article 20 of the Basic Law to approve the creation and implementation of the MPA (and any local legislation falling under it) would constitute or otherwise flow from an “act of state” over which the Hong Kong Courts have no jurisdiction.[7]
  2. It is worrying that such invocation of Article 20 of the Basic Law gives the NPCSC yet another means of determining the content of the Basic Law and the scope of Hong Kong laws, effectively amounting to a rule by decree. This follows the NPCSC’s recent use of its Basic Law interpretation powers Article 158 of the Basic Law in December 2016 not only to interpret the meaning of oath-taking requirements under Article 104 of the Basic Law, but also to make specific prescriptions on oath-taking which were matters of local Hong Kong law.  Taken together, these developments create concerns about future legal and constitutional certainty in Hong Kong.  Such certainty is in turn an essential ingredient of the rule of law, which is fundamental to Hong Kong maintenance of its status as an international financial centre.
  3. In sum, the Government’s proposal in relation to the MPA would be in breach of the spirit of “One Country Two Systems” and the high degree of autonomy afforded to the HKSAR guaranteed by the Basic Law and the Sino-British Joint Declaration, as well as their express and unambiguous provisions.

E. Comparison with Arrangements between Foreign Countries and between the Mainland and Hong Kong

  1. The Government has referred to the arrangements between foreign countries, such as those between the United States and Canada, and between the United Kingdom and France for the Eurostar train. It also referred to the customs and immigration arrangements between the Mainland and Hong Kong at Shenzhen Bay.  In referring to these examples, the Government has sought to suggest that its proposal in relation to the MPA is commonly found elsewhere and ought not be controversial.  However, the PLG notes that these arrangements are not legally and constitutionally comparable to that which exist in relation to the proposed MPA:
  • The arrangements between the United States and Canada and between the United Kingdom and France involve independent sovereign nations which enjoy sovereign powers to legislate for their countries. By contrast, both the Mainland and Hong Kong administrations are bound by and must observe the Basic Law.  Any similar arrangement would contravene the spirit and provisions of the Basic Law and the Sino-British Joint Declaration which guarantee “One Country Two Systems” and a high degree of autonomy to be practiced in Hong Kong as explained above.
  • As for the Shenzhen Bay scenario, where Hong Kong law applies in a land area belonging to the Mainland, that differs from the currently proposed MPA scenario. There is no constitutional prohibition on such an arrangement on Mainland territory, whereas as noted above, the Basic Law clearly prohibits such an arrangement in relation to the application of Mainland laws in Hong Kong.
  1. In so far as the North American and European examples cited above are concerned, we also note (although these points do not go to the fundamental question of constitutionality in the Hong Kong context as mentioned above) that the sovereign states that have implemented such arrangements share similar standards and afford similar protections on human rights. They can thus be confident that the human rights of its citizens would not be substantively prejudiced even where the officials of another state exercise rights of arrest or detention within the restricted areas for border control and customs.  If suffices to mention for present purposes that a comparable degree of similarity in rights protection simply do not exist as between the Mainland and Hong Kong.
  2. We also note, for completeness, potentially referable but more restrictive immigration and customs arrangements reached between other countries:.
  • As between Singapore and Malaysia northbound passengers taking the Malaysian Railway may clear both Singapore’s and Malaysia’s custom and immigration at Woodland Train Checkpoint (in Singapore), but southbound passengers have to clear Malaysian custom and immigration at Johar Bahru (in Malaysia) and then Singapore custom and immigration at Woodland Train Checkpoint. This arrangement arose from a set of unique historical and legal circumstances as between Singapore and Malaysia subsisting from the time of Singapore’s independence, and in any event these states do not have comparable provisions in their constitutions as those referred to above in the Basic Law.
  • Another example is the high-speed railway, the Allegro Express, between Finland and Russia. It connects between Helsinki, the capital of Finland, and St. Petersburg in Russia. Between the two terminals, there are 4 additional stops in Finland, and 1 additional stop in Russia.  Both countries retain their immigration and customs control.  However, physical control points are only installed at one additional stop in Finland (the one closest to the border) and at the additional stop in Russia for passengers boarding and alighting at the two respective stops.  For all other passengers travelling to and from the terminals or other additional stops, the officials from both countries would carry out immigration and customs controls on board the trains (“on-board clearance”).  Such an arrangement would substantially reduce the time required for passengers to queue up for border controls (except for passengers boarding at the last or alighting at the first stop), and does not involve any jurisdictional issue.

F. Comparison with Situations involving Consulates

  1. There have been suggestions that the proposal is akin to the lease of land to foreign consulates, which are immune from interference by the HKSAR authorities.
  2. However, we take the view that the situation involving foreign consulates is very different from the current context and not comparable for the following reasons:
  • The immunity and privileges enjoyed by foreign consulates are matters of foreign affairs which the Central Government has exclusive power and control under the Basic Law. As such, the “Regulations of the People’s Republic of China Concerning Diplomatic Privileges and Immunities” (the “Regulations”) being a piece of national law was included in Annex III of the Basic Law.  The local legislation which gives effect to this piece of national law is the Consular Relations Ordinance, Cap. 557 (“CRO”).  Both are promulgated to give effect to the articles of the Vienna Convention on Consular Relations which the PRC is a signatory (“Vienna Convention”).
  • Aside from the protection of immunity for consular officers, the Vienna Convention, the Regulation and the CRO provide that consular premises are inviolable. Hence, local officials or law enforcement agencies cannot freely enter into such premises to exercise their functions and duties.  However, the premises being inviolable does not mean that the laws of the HKSAR do not apply in those premises.  To the contrary, the laws of Hong Kong still apply in those premises and the HKSAR officials may enter such premises to enforce the same with the consent of the subject consulate-general.  Therefore, any local people committing offences in those premises can be arrested by Hong Kong police and prosecuted in Hong Kong courts.
  • Under the Vienna Convention, the Regulation and the CRO, the consular officers are entitled to carry out consular functions, e.g. issuing visas/passports and taking evidence in accordance with international arrangements, in the consular premises. However, such consular functions do not include Customs control or criminal jurisdiction.
  1. In the premises, the situation with consulate premises is not comparable with the Government’s proposal which involves the exercise of customs law and criminal law within the West Kowloon Station and on operating trains.

G. Alternative Methods

  1. There are obvious alternative methods to implement the boundary controls without contravening the Basic Law and sacrificing the rule of law, e.g. installing control points at the stations in Guangzhou and Shenzhen which the Government had previously stated that spaces had been reserved for the same.[8]
  2. The Government has stated in its proposal that it considered all alternative proposals not feasible or economically viable.
  3. For example, the Government declined the idea of on-board clearance due to physical limitation of space on the trains and short journey time between Hong Kong and Futian.[9] The Government also considered the traditional separate-location arrangement undesirable.[10]
  4. However, it seems that the Government has not considered a combined mode of the on-board clearance and separate-location arrangement which has been adopted in the Finland/Russia as noted above. If a similar arrangement is adopted for XRL between Hong Kong and the Mainland, for trains starting from/ending up in the Mainland outside Guangdong province, on-board clearance can be effected which journey time would be long and physical space on trains is a matter not difficult to resolve.  Such an arrangement would also save passengers time from queuing up at the Mainland boundary controls.  For trains travelling to Shenzhen or Guangzhou, the traditional separate-location arrangement may be adopted.
  5. Such a combined mode seems feasible albeit involving slightly higher costs for the Mainland authorities. However, such an operating mode would not involve the jurisdictional issues or contravene the Basic Law as the current proposal does.
  6. Thus, there do exist other alternative methods which do not contravene the Basic Law and are feasible despite higher costs involved or lower economic convenience. It is not for the PLG, as a group of lawyers and law students, to endorse any particular alternative method from a logistical perspective.  Nonetheless, the PLG urges the Government to explore all possibilities in alternative methods which comply with the spirit and provisions of the Basic Law.

Progressive Lawyers Group

18 September 2017

[1]    The Basic Law provides as follows: Article 2 authorises Hong Kong to exercise ‘a high degree of autonomy, executive, legislative and independent judicial power’; Article 3 states that executive and legislative positions ‘shall be composed of permanent residents of Hong Kong’; Article 12 provides that Hong Kong as a local administrative region of the PRC shall enjoy a high degree of autonomy; Article 16 sanctions the executive to conduct regional administrative affairs on its own; Article 17 grants the legislature with powers to make laws for the region; Article 19 vests Hong Kong with an independent judiciary and powers of final adjudication; Article 22 prevents the Central Government from interfering in the affairs which Hong Kong administers on its own in accordance with the Basic Law; Article 23 grants Hong Kong the power to enact laws on state security laws; Article 26 confers a right upon residents to vote and stand for election; Articles 27 to 34 guarantee fundamental rights; Article 39 guarantees and protects the application of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (the “ICCPR”) in Hong Kong; Article 159 provides that ‘no amendment to this Law shall contravene the established basic policies [which is a reference to the Joint Declaration] of the PRC regarding Hong Kong.’ In addition Hong Kong has its own regional flag and emblem, independent finance and taxation systems.

[2]      Chapter VII Basic Law provides that Hong Kong has autonomy over some areas of external affairs, e.g. trade relations in the WTO, power to enter into bilateral treaties concerning economic matters.

[3]    Article 13 and 14 of the Basic Law.

[4]   Such legislative power is regulated in more details in Articles 63 to 79 of the Basic Law.

[5]   Para. 47 of the Government paper tabled for discussion by the Legco <http://www.legco.gov.hk/yr16-17/english/hc/papers/hccb2-1966-1-e.pdf>

[6]    Para. 20 of the Report of the Bills Committee <http://www.legco.gov.hk/yr06-07/english/bc/bc55/reports/bc550425cb2-1626-e.pdf> and the government’s press release of the speech given by Ambrose Lee Siu Kwong, the then Secretary for Security, on 25th April 2007 <http://www.info.gov.hk/gia/general/200704/25/P200704250279.htm&gt;

[7] HKSAR v Ma Wai Kwan [1997] HKLRD 761; Ng Ka Ling and Others v Director of Immigration (No 2) [1999] 1 HKLRD 577.

[8]    Para. 19 of the Legislative Council Brief dated 22 April 2008 <http://www.legco.gov.hk/yr07-08/english/panels/tp/tp_rdp/papers/tp_rdp-thbtcr11658199-e.pdf>

[9]    Paras. 17-18 of Annex to Paper tabled for Legco <http://www.legco.gov.hk/yr16-17/english/hc/papers/hccb2-1966-1-e.pdf>

[10] Paras. 19-23 of Annex to Paper tabled for Legco <http://www.legco.gov.hk/yr16-17/english/hc/papers/hccb2-1966-1-e.pdf>

 

Full PDF versions can be found here:

https://goo.gl/zRQENu (中文版)

https://goo.gl/jBPrxU (English version)