【法政匯思就港區《國安法》之聲明】
<Statement of the Progressive Lawyers Group
on the National Security Law to be Promulgated in Hong Kong> (please scroll for Eng version)

1. 本年5月28日,最高國家權力機關全國人大代表大會 (「人大」) 表決通過制訂《中華人民共和國香港特別行政區維護國家安全法》 (《國安法》) (「人大決定」)。

2. 全國人大常務委員會 (「人大常委」) 為人大的常設機構。人大常委現正起草《國安法》,內容涵括分裂國家、顛覆國家政權、組織實施恐怖活動等嚴重危害國家安全的行為和活動以及外國和境外勢力干預香港特別行政區事務的活動。

3. 根據人大決定,國安法將透過《基本法》附件三,由北京任命的行政長官在香港公布實施生效。所謂公布實施生效,只需要行政長官以在憲報刊登法律公告的形式進行。本地的立法機關立法會並不會參與其中。

4. 人大常委於本年6月28日召開一次特別會議,故《國安法》最早可於6月30日便會獲通過。換言之,《國安法》在數日內將成為香港法律的一部分。

5. 法政匯思毫無保留地反對《國安法》立法(分析詳見附錄)。

6. 《國安法》將凌駕於任何與之不符的香港法律之上。人大常委擁有解釋《國安法》的權力。部分案件將在香港審理,其他案件則將在內地審理。公開審訊無法得到保障。《國安法》將會容許北京當局逮捕和扣押任何他們認為「威脅」國家安全的在港人士。

7. 香港人在《國安法》立法過程中從未被諮詢。本地立法機關亦無機會審視《國安法》的內容。

8. 人大為香港立法的舉動,並不符合《中英聯合聲明》和《基本法》所奠定的「一國兩制」原則的原意。當局訂立《國安法》既無視正當立法程序和公民自由,更是中央當局要將其所謂的「全面管治權」植入香港的手段。《國安法》遠比2019年的《逃犯條例修訂草案》嚴苛,將為香港的自治、法治,以及我們既有的生活方式帶來嚴峻而深遠的衝擊。

9. 人民尊重法治有其原因。法律面前,人人平等,即使是政府跟人民對簿公堂亦然。法律必需公開透明,不可朝令夕改。法律必需充分地保障基本人權。我們至今仍未知道《國安法》如何能符合這些原則。

10. 香港實行的普通法制度堅持公開透明、正當程序、司法公正,更提倡法治及公義。建基於此制度上,香港得以在1997年的主權移交前成為一個國際金融中心。北京已在《中英聯合聲明》和《基本法》中明確承諾,普通法在主權移交後得以延續。若以現行方式推行《國安法》, 我們對於這個法律制度能否繼續有效運作存有疑問。

11. 這些問題不只影響香港人,亦影響在港的外國人及外資企業,因為他們正是依仗明確的法律以及自由流通的資訊來保障他們的權益,以及有效率地營商。國際社會,尤其是國際人權法方面的權威們,皆已就《國安法》提出憂慮。當中,數十名聯合國特別報告員及人權法專家皆就《國安法》對《公民權利和政治權利國際公約》及《中英聯合聲明》所保障權利的影響表達憂慮。聯合國的前人權事務高級專員及其他專家亦指出香港正面臨一場「人權危機」。法政匯思同樣有這些憂慮。另外,很多其他國際組織及社會賢達亦就《國安法》提出嚴重的憂慮,甚至反對《國安法》立法,包括七國集團(G7)國家、歐盟委員會、歐洲議會、香港大律師公會、香港律師會、香港終審法院前首席法官李國能,以及包括法政匯思在內的86個公民社會組織。

12. 法政匯思促請人大撤回早前通過制訂《國安法》的決定,並依從《基本法》第二十三條,交由香港人決定何時以及在甚麼情況下才適合訂立國家安全法律。

法政匯思
2020年6月29日

附錄:法政匯思就《國安法》的法律觀點

簡介:6月20日,新華社就《國安法》發表官方說明 (「官方說明」),以下法律觀點以該官方說明為基礎:

立法程序

1. 《基本法》第十八條列明,全國性法律除列於本法附件三者(限於「有關國防、外交和其他按本法規定不屬於香港特別行政區自治範圍的法律」)外,不在香港實施。

2. 《基本法》第二十三條要求香港應就國家安全自行立法,意即訂立國家安全法律事宜顯然是香港自治範圍的事務。人大授權人大常委為香港訂立《國安法》的決定,與《基本法》第十八及第二十三條並不相符。

3. 《國安法》將由行政長官公布實施,而非由立法會進行本地立法,即實施前並不會就其內容進行公眾諮詢。中方官員近日與個別獲邀親中人士在香港舉行的閉門會議並非恰當的公眾諮詢。更大問題的是,就連《國安法》的草案全文,都不會在正式通過前公布。

草案內容

4. 根據官方說明,人大常委擁有對《國安法》的解釋權。以人大常委解釋《基本法》的往績來看,包括濫稱「立法原意」、「公眾利益」以扭曲清晰法律條文的傾向,現階段就假設其對《國安法》的解釋權最終會損害香港法治亦不為過。

5. 《國安法》的第一章(五)要求香港政府「對學校,社會團體等涉及國家安全的事項 …… 採取必要的措施,加強監督和管理」,暗示國家將廣泛控制學校課程以及課堂教學。

6. 《國安法》第二章(一)聲稱人權將受尊重和保障。然而,根據官方說明,《國安法》附則中規定《國安法》將凌駕香港本地法律,《國安法》亦會成為涉國家安全的特定法律。這意味《國安法》相當可能凌駕本地法律《香港人權法案條例》之中的人權保障。

7. 《國安法》第二章(二)段概述香港預防、制止和懲治國家安全犯罪的原則,包括無罪假定和辯護權。然而,官方說明中有關管轄權、法律和程序事宜的有關規定隨即已抵觸上述原則(請參考本文下述就《國安法》第五章的分析)。此等規定亦沒有排除《國安法》可能具追溯力,即市民立法前的行為亦可能會負上刑事責任。

8. 《國安法》第四章將訂立分裂國家、顛覆國家政權、恐怖活動和「勾結外國或者境外勢力危害國家安全罪」的刑事罪行。然而,官方說明並未提及該等刑事罪行的實質要素,公眾亦不會在《國安法》通過前得知詳情。值得指出的是,顛覆國家政權罪中的「國家政權」一詞包括中央人民政府以外的機關,所以「顛覆」特區政府的行為亦可能犯法,比起《基本法》第二十三條要求香港立法禁止「顛覆中央人民政府」更廣。

9. 《國安法》第五章將訂立管轄權、法律和程序的規定:

a.「除特定情形外」,香港特區對將就《國安法》規定的罪案行使管轄權。《基本法》當中,香港特區對本地刑事案件的管轄權乃一項根本原則,確保香港法律制度下的基本權利受保障。然而,上述規定與此原則背道而馳。若疑犯遭引渡至中國內地,受國家安全部(「國安」)人員審問的可能性令人非常擔憂。

b. 即使疑犯留在香港,警務處負責調查《國安法》案件的部門亦可採取「現行法律准予…… 調查嚴重犯罪案件時採取的各種措施,以及本法規定的有關職權和措施」。此規定不但模糊,亦容易被濫用。此外,新設立的警務處部門必須「遵守保密原則」,疑犯亦可能被送往特別拘留所,甚至可能「未經審判即被無限期羈押」。

c. 行政長官將「指定若干名法官」處理《國安法》案件。此規定嚴重打擊司法獨立,與司法機構依照工作量和能力分配法官的悠久做法南轅北轍。再者,政府一方面指派處理《國安法》案件的法官,另一方面則作為控方參與案件,有嚴重利益衝突之嫌。要留意的是,行政長官根據《國安法》指派法官審案的權力與根據《基本法》第八十八條依照司法人員推薦委員會的推薦任命法官的權力大相逕庭,不可混為一談。

10. 《國安法》第六章將授權中央人民政府在香港設立一所名為「維護國家安全公署」的國家安全機構(「駐港國安公署」):

a. 駐港國安公署的一項職能為「收集分析國家安全情報信息」和「與香港特別行政區維護國家安全的執法、司法機關建立協作機制,加強信息共享和行動配合」。實際上,此等職能意味國安等機關可能將進行大規模監控,而入境事務處等特區政府的部門亦可能披露市民的敏感資料。

b. 駐港國安公署的另一項職能為「依法辦理危害國家安全犯罪案件」。「辦理案件」一詞代表駐港國安公署只會調查在「特定情形」下中央人民政府行使管轄權的案件,還是包括與本地執法機關合作調查案件,仍是未知之數。後者意味「一國兩制」的界線將不單在原則上,更在執行上變得模糊。無論如何,這都會破壞《基本法》的關鍵原則,即香港境內的執法事務應由特區政府,而非內地機關負責。

總結觀察

11. 程序上,《國安法》的立法方式明顯不符《基本法》,嚴重打擊香港法治和「一國兩制」的框架。《國安法》立法過程完全缺乏公眾諮詢以及立法會的參與和意見表達,赤祼祼地違背基本的程序公義。

12. 實質上,《國安法》將會侵蝕香港的自治、司法獨立。《國安法》將容許中國的官方機構,包括國安及快將成立的駐港國安公署,在香港進行執法行動,在香港法制下的監察、問責卻有限。未經審訊無限期拘留、被捕人士送中、被中國情報人員刑訊逼供等威脅將會加強政權對社會的控制,加劇對公民社會以及資訊自由流通的寒蟬效應,進而打擊香港作為理想投資及營商地區的吸引力。

(PDF版本: https://bit.ly/2NEaMeM)

<Statement of the Progressive Lawyers Group
on the National Security Law to be Promulgated in Hong Kong>

1. On 28th May, the National People’s Congress (“NPC”), the highest state organ of power in China, decided to enact national security law (“NSL”) in Hong Kong (“NPC’s Decision”).

2. The Standing Committee of the NPC (“NPCSC”), the permanent organ of the NPC, is in the process of drafting the NSL which will cover subversion, secession, terrorism and foreign interference.

3. According to the NPC’s Decision, the NSL shall be implemented in Hong Kong via Annex III of the Basic Law (“BL”). It will take effect after the Beijing-appointed Chief Executive (“CE”) promulgates it. Promulgation only requires the CE to issue a notice in the Gazette. The Legislative Council, the local legislature, is not involved at all.

4. On 28th June, the NPCSC convened a special meeting. It is expected that the NSL will be enacted as early as 30th June. In other words, the NSL can become part of the Hong Kong laws within a few days.

5. The Progressive Lawyers Group (“PLG”) unreservedly opposes the enactment of the NSL. The PLG elaborates its observations in the annex below.

6. The NSL will override any Hong Kong laws that are inconsistent with it. The NPCSC will be vested with the power to interpret the NSL. Some cases will be heard in Hong Kong, some in the Mainland. There is no guarantee the hearings will be conducted openly. The NSL will allow the Beijing authorities to arrest and lock up anyone in Hong Kong they consider “threatening” national security.

7. Hong Kong citizens are not being consulted about the enactment of the NSL. The content of the NSL will not be vetted by Hong Kong’s own law-making body.

8. The NPC legislating on Hong Kong’s behalf is not part of the design of the “One Country, Two Systems” set out in the Sino-British Joint Declaration (“JD”) and the BL. The NSL disregards due process and civil liberties, providing the central authorities the means to implant their purported “comprehensive jurisdiction” in Hong Kong. Far more draconian than the extradition bill of 2019, the NSL will have a serious long term impact on Hong Kong’s autonomy and rule of law, and the way of life as we know it.

9. People respect the rule of law for good reasons. Everyone is equal before the law, be it the government or the people. The law must be readily accessible and predictable. It must afford adequate protection of fundamental human rights. We at this stage still do not know how the NSL would fulfill these requirements.

10. The common law system practiced in Hong Kong insists on transparency, due process and fairness. It promotes the rule of law and justice. Underpinned by such a system, Hong Kong became an international financial hub before the Handover in 1997. The Beijing authorities pledged its continuity after the Handover as expressly stipulated in the JD and the BL. It is questionable whether the legal framework will still be as effective in light of how the NSL is to be implemented.

11. These developments affect not only Hong Kong citizens, but also foreign nationals and businesses in Hong Kong, which rely on legal certainty and the free flow of information for the protection of their rights and to operate efficiently. The international community, especially the international human rights community, has voiced their grave concerns about the NSL. Dozens of UN special rapporteurs and human rights experts have expressed concern over the implications of the NSL on the rights guaranteed under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the JD. The former UN High Commissioner for Human Rights together with others have also expressed concern that Hong Kong faces a “human rights crisis”. The PLG echoes these concerns. Many other prominent bodies and figures have expressed serious concerns and/or opposition to the NSL, including the G7 group of countries, the European Commission, the European Parliament, the Hong Kong Bar Association, the Law Society of Hong Kong, the former Chief Justice of Hong Kong (the Hon Andrew Li), and 86 civil society groups (including the PLG).

12. The PLG urges the NPC to withdraw its Decision in imposing the NSL on Hong Kong and let the people of Hong Kong determine when and if the conditions are suitable for a national security law to be enacted, in accordance with Article 23 of the BL.

The Progressive Lawyers Group
29 June 2020

Annex: the observations of the Progressive Lawyers Group on the Impending National Security Law

Introduction: on 20th June, the official summary of the NSL (“Summary”) was revealed by the Xinhua News Agency. The following observations are premised on the analysis of the Summary:

Legislative Process

1. Article 18 of the BL provides that national laws shall not be applied in the HKSAR, except those that are listed in Annex III, i.e. laws relating to defence, foreign affairs and other matters outside the limits of Hong Kong’s autonomy.

2. Article 23 of the BL provides that HKSAR shall enact national security laws on its own, which means the issue of enacting national security legislation is plainly within Hong Kong’s autonomy. By authorising the NPCSC to legislate on Hong Kong’s behalf, the NPC’s Decision is inconsistent with both Articles 18 and 23 of the BL.

3. The NSL will be applied by way of promulgation by the CE rather than legislation by the Legislative Council (“LegCo”). That means there will not be public consultation on its contents. The closed-door meetings with selected pro-Beijing figures that took place in Hong Kong earlier this week did not constitute proper consultation. What’s worse, the full draft of the NSL will not even be made public until the NPCSC signs it into law.

Substantive Analysis

4. According to the Summary, the NPCSC will be vested with the power to interpret the NSL. Given its track record in interpreting the BL, which includes a tendency to impose politically expedient “legislative intent” and “public interest” beyond the plain text of the law, it is safe to assume that this “interpretation power” will have similar detrimental effect on Hong Kong’s rule of law.

5. Chapter I(5) of the NSL requires the Hong Kong government to employ “necessary measures to strengthen the oversight and management of schools, social organizations, and other matters related to national security.” The requirement hints at broad state control in school curriculum and classroom instructions.

6. Chapter II(1) of the NSL provides that human rights should be protected. However, according to the Summary, supplementary provisions to the NSL provide that the NSL will override Hong Kong’s local law and that the NSL is the specific law on national security matters. That means the NSL may well override human rights safeguards set out in the Hong Kong Bill of Rights Ordinance, a piece of local legislation.

7. Chapter II(2) of the NSL sets out principles in preventing, stopping and punishing national security offences, including the presumption of innocence and right to defence. However, the Summary goes on to make provisions for jurisdiction, law and procedure in a manner which contradicts those very same principles, as addressed in our analysis on Chapter V of the NSL below. Furthermore, the provisions does not rule out that the NSL may have retrospective effect, i.e. to criminalise acts that predate its enactment.

8. Chapter IV of the NSL will criminalise the offences of secession, subversion of state power, terrorism and “colluding with foreign or overseas forces to endanger national security.” The precise elements of these offences are omitted from the Summary and withheld from the public before enactment. It is worth highlighting that “state power” in the anti-subversion clause covers authorities beyond the Central People’s Government under Article 23 of the BL and may potentially include the HKSAR government.

9. Chapter V of the NSL will provide for jurisdiction, applicable law and procedures:

a. “except in specified circumstances,” the HKSAR shall exercise jurisdiction over the national security offences prosecuted under the NSL. This is contrary to the fundamental principle in the BL that the HKSAR exercises jurisdiction over offences in the HKSAR, and in doing so provides for the protection of rights guaranteed under the HKSAR legal system. The fact that suspects may be extradited to China and interrogated by agents from the Ministry of State Security (“MSS”) is a cause for serious concern;

b. even where the accused remains in Hong Kong, the unit within the Hong Kong Police Force (“HKPF”) to investigate NSL cases “may employ various measures allowed for serious crimes under current law, as well as the relevant authority and measures provided for in this Law”, which is both vague and open to abuse. Furthermore, the new police unit will have to “keep its operations secret” and suspects may be sent to a separate facility for possible “indefinite preventive detention without trial”; and

c. the CE “shall designate a number of judges” to hear the cases under NSL. This is an affront to judicial independence—it flies in the face of the established practice that judges in Hong Kong are allocated by the judiciary according to their capacity and expertise, and imports grave concerns of conflict of interest whereby the government designates the pool of judges to hear NSL cases to which the government itself necessarily will be a party. This new power granted to the CE under the NSL must not be confused with her current power under Article 88 of the BL to appoint judges upon recommendation of the Judicial Officers Recommendation Commission.

10. Chapter VI of the NSL will provide for a Chinese national security organ called “National Security Office” (“NSO”) to be set up in Hong Kong by the Central People’s Government:

a. a duty of the NSO is to “collect and analyze national security intelligence information” and “coordinate with the HKSAR National Security Preservation Commission, national security law enforcement and judicial organs in HKSAR to strengthen information sharing and cooperation in actions.” In practical terms, this indicates a risk of extensive surveillance by the authorities such as the MSS and disclosure of sensitive information by HKSAR government branches like the Immigration Department; and

b. another duty of the NSO is to “to handle crimes endangering national security in accordance with law.” It is unclear whether “handling crimes” refers to investigating cases relating to the “specified circumstances” in which the Central People’s Government has jurisdiction, or it involves jointly investigating cases with the local law enforcement authorities in Hong Kong. The latter would mean that the boundaries of “One Country, Two Systems” will blur on both in principle and on an operational level. In either case, it does away with a central principle of the BL that law enforcement be carried out by the HKSAR authorities in the HKSAR, not by Mainland authorities in the HKSAR.

Overall Implications

11. Procedurally, the manner in which the NSL is to be enacted is clearly inconsistent with the BL and has dealt a devastating blow to Hong Kong’s rule of law and the “One Country, Two Systems” framework. The complete absence of public consultation and LegCo’s participation and input in the enactment of the NSL presents not even a veil of basic fairness.

12. Substantively, the NSL encroaches on Hong Kong’s autonomy and undermines its judicial independence. The NSL will allow mainland Chinese organs including the MSS and the new NSO to carry out law enforcement operations in Hong Kong with little oversight and accountability. Threats of indefinite detention, extradition to China and the use of aggressive interrogative tactics by mainland operatives will lead to a rise in state control, worsen the chilling effect on civil society and the free flow of information, and damage Hong Kong’s reputation as a desirable jurisdiction for investment and business.

(PDF version: https://bit.ly/2NEaMeM)