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1) 二零二零年七月三十日,十二名民主派候選人的二零二零年立法會換屆選舉提名被宣佈為無效。其理據為該些候選人沒有真誠地擁護《基本法》和保證效忠中華人民共和國香港特別行政區(「香港特區」)。

2) 翌日,行政長官林鄭月娥聲稱運用《緊急情況規例條例》(第241章)下的權力將立法會換屆選舉延遲一年至二零二一年九月五日。其理由為因新型冠狀病毒疫情帶來公眾健康的考慮。

3) 大規模取消選舉資格及延遲選舉均嚴重違反香港人的投票、參選及自由言論的基本權利,法政匯思對兩舉表示深切關注。

4) 選舉主任決定取消選舉資格的理由包括被提名人曾經:

a) 「進行尋求外國政府或政治組織干預有關香港特別行政區的事務」;

b) 「表明意圖在確保於立法會佔多數後,行使立法會議員權力無差別地否決任何政府提出的立法建議、任命、撥款申請及財政預算案,以逼使政府接受若干政治要求」;

c) 「支持香港獨立、以民主自決或支持香港獨立作為自決前途選項來處理香港體制」;

d) 「原則上反對全國人民代表大會常務委員會制定《中華人民共和國香港特別行政區維護國家安全法》(「《國安法》」)以及將其列入《基本法》附件三並在香港公布實施」;及

e) 「拒絕承認中華人民共和國對香港特別行政區行使主權以及香港特別行政區作為中華人民共和國一個地方行政區域的憲制地位」。

5) 全部十二名被取消選舉資格的被提名人已聲明他們擁護《基本法》及保證效忠香港特區(「該聲明」)。高等法院曾裁定若候選人簽署聲明,選舉主任只可以在具有「強而有力,清晰和具說服力的材料,客觀而明顯地顯示即使已簽署聲明被提名的人在獲提名時並無擁護《基本法》和保證效忠中華人民共和國香港特別行政區的意圖」的情況下,裁定候選人不具備所需的意圖。 (後加強調)

6) 我們質疑被提名人是否有行為或言論構成「強而有力,清晰和具說服力」的証據,「客觀而明顯地」顯示他們並無擁護《基本法》和保證效忠香港特圖的意圖,去支持取消他們的選舉資格。

7) 法政匯思認為大規模取消選舉資格及延遲選舉違反香港人的基本權利:

a) 根據《基本法》第二十六條,所有香港永久性居民均享有基本的選舉權和被選舉權。《香港人權法案》 (「人權法案」)第二十一條訂明,所有香港永久性居民, 無分任何區別(包括政見或其他主張 ),不受無理限制 ,均應享有投票及被選的權利及機會;及
b) 根據《基本法》第二十七條及人權法案第十六條,所有香港永久性居民皆享有言論自由的基本權利。
c) 香港法院一向明確指出,任何對基本權利的限制都必須予以狹窄的解釋。
d) 香港法院亦已確定選舉權是「最重要的政治權利」。 選舉權對於民主和法治至為重要,不能輕易摒棄。
e) 有意義的選舉權需要被選舉權充分受到尊重。「被選舉權是與選民的利益息息相關,因此,此權不應受到不當的限制」 。

8) 對選舉權及被選舉權的限制必須是合理和成比例的。將立法會選舉推遲整整一年應該是用盡所有方法後的最後選擇。根據香港法例第542章《立法會條例》第44(1)條:「如在換屆選舉舉行前,行政長官認為該項選舉相當可能受騷亂或公開暴力或任何危害公眾健康或安全的事故妨礙、干擾、破壞或嚴重影響,則行政長官可藉命令指示將該項選舉押後。」而該日期不得遲於該項選舉、投票或點票本會進行的日期後的14天。故此,行政長官並沒有權將立法會選舉推遲一整年。再者,行政長官尚未證明她有考慮過其他可行辦法,例如以郵遞方式投票或交錯投票。值得一提的是,在過去的幾個月,其他國家/地區,包括新加坡和南韓,亦已在疫症期間成功舉行了大選。

9) 哪些行為會被視為不擁護《基本法》和不能保證效忠香港特區變得越來越模糊。二零一六年七月,主張香港獨立的候選人,如梁天琦和陳浩天,被禁止參選立法會。同年十一月,六名支持香港獨立或民主自決的立法會議員,因修改誓詞而被取消議員資格。二零一八年,再多兩名候選人在立法會補選中被取消參選資格,立法會議員朱凱廸因支持民主自決被取消參選鄉郊代表選舉的資格。二零一九年,黃之鋒因支持民主自決而被取消參選區議會選舉的資格。現在,反對《國安法》變成了取消更多參選人資格的理由。這樣的不確定性不利於舉行符合國際人權法的公平公正的選舉。

10) 公平公正的選舉是和平地表達政治意見的重要途徑。在真正周期性的選舉投票和被選的基本權利是維持有秩序的文明社會的關鍵。

法政匯思
2020年8月1日
(PDF: https://bit.ly/3fpkuwO)

1) On 30 July 2020, elections officials announced that the nominations of twelve pro-democracy candidates running in the Legislative Council (“Legco”) elections of 2020 were invalid on the basis that they did not have a genuine and truthful intention to uphold the Basic Law (“BL”) and pledge allegiance to the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (“HKSAR”).

2) The following day, Chief Executive Carrie Lam purported to exercise her powers under the Emergency Regulations Ordinance (Cap. 241) to postpone the Legco elections by a year to 5 September 2021, citing public health concerns due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

3) The PLG is deeply concerned by the mass disqualifications and the election postponement. Both moves are serious breaches of Hong Kong people’s fundamental rights to vote, to stand for election, and to freedom of speech.

4) The reasons given by the Returning Officers (“RO”) for the disqualifications included that nominees had:-
a) “Solicited interference by foreign governments or political authorities in relation to HKSAR’s affairs;
b) “Expressed an intention to exercise the functions of Legco members after securing a majority in the Legco in such a way as to force the Government to accede to certain demands;
c) “Advocated or promoted Hong Kong independence, self-determination or changing the system of the HKSAR by supporting Hong Kong independence as an option for self-determination;
d) “Expressed an objection in principle to the enactment of the National Security Law by the Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress and its subsequent promulgation as a national law listed in Annex III to the BL; and
e) “Refused to recognise the PRC’s exercise of sovereignty over the HKSAR and the HKSAR’s constitutional status as a local administrative region of the PRC.”

5) All twelve disqualified nominees had previously made declarations that they would uphold the BL and pledge allegiance to the HKSAR (the “Declaration”). The High Court has held that where a nominee has made a Declaration, the RO should only conclude that the nominee does not have the requisite intention where “there is such cogent, clear and compelling evidence which plainly shows objectively that the candidate, notwithstanding the signed Declaration, does not have the intention at the time of the nomination to uphold the BL and swear allegiance to the HKSAR.” (emphasis added)

6) It is questionable whether this high threshold has been met in these disqualifications, i.e., whether the nominees’ prior acts or speech constituted “cogent, clear and compelling evidence” that “plainly shows objectively” that they lack the intention to uphold the BL and pledge allegiance to the HKSAR.

7) The PLG believes that the mass disqualifications and the postponement of the Legco elections run contrary to fundamental rights:-
a) Under BL Article 26, all Hong Kong permanent residents have the fundamental right to vote and the right to stand for election. The Hong Kong Bill of Rights (“HKBOR”) Article 21 provides that all Hong Kong permanent residents have the right and the opportunity to be elected without any distinction of any kind (including political or other opinion) and without unreasonable restrictions; and
b) All Hong Kong permanent residents are promised the right to free speech under BL Article 27 and HKBOR Article 16.
c) Any restrictions to the aforesaid fundamental rights guaranteed in the BL “must be narrowly interpreted”.
d) Hong Kong courts have held that the right to vote is “the most important political right”. It is widely recognized that the right to vote is “fundamental” to “democracy and the rule of law and cannot be lightly set aside.”
e) The right to vote, to be meaningful, requires full respect for the right to stand for election. “[T]he right to stand for election is a right directly linked to the interest of the electorate being given the widest choice of candidate and for this reason, the right ought not to be unduly restricted”.

8) Restrictions on the right to vote and to stand for election must be reasonable and proportionate. Postponing a Legco election by a full year should be the last resort after all other options have been exhausted. Under the Legislative Council Ordinance (Cap. 542) section 44(1), the Chief Executive may direct the postponement of a general election if she is of the opinion that it is “likely to be obstructed, disrupted, undermined or seriously affected by […] any danger to public health or safety” for a maximum of 14 days. Thus the Chief Executive lacks the power to push back the LegCo elections by a year. Furthermore, the Chief Executive has yet to demonstrate that less drastic alternatives have been considered, such as postal ballots or staggered voting. It is instructive to note that other jurisdictions have held general elections over the past months during the pandemic, including Singapore and South Korea.

9) It is becoming increasingly unpredictable what political stances may fall foul of the requirement to intend to uphold the Basic Law and pledge allegiance to the HKSAR (which in any event is a requirement which ought to be “narrowly interpreted”; see para 7(c) above). In July 2016, nominees advocating for Hong Kong independence such as Edward Leung Tin-kei and Andy Chan Ho-tin were barred from running in the 2016 Legco elections. Later that year, six elected lawmakers in support of various degrees of self-determination were disqualified for simply deviating from the prescribed oath of office. In 2018, two more nominees were disqualified in Legco by-elections, while lawmaker Eddie Chu Hoi-dick was barred from running in the rural elections. In 2019, Joshua Wong Chi-fung was disqualified from the District Council. Now, even expressing opposition to the enactment of the National Security Law, and even expressing an intention to vote in Legco in a manner which holds the Government accountable to the demands of one’s constituency, has become a reason to disqualify yet further candidates. Such uncertainty is not conducive to the conduct of free and fair elections under international human rights law.

10) It cannot be emphasized enough how important it is to maintain free and fair elections as a peaceful means of political expression. The right to vote and be elected at genuine periodic elections is a fundamental right that is essential to the maintenance of an orderly and civilized society.

Progressive Lawyers Group
1 August 2020
(PDF: https://bit.ly/3fpkuwO)