Beijing’s ‘distortion’ of Hong Kong Basic Law greatly undermines rule of law, legal experts warn

On Wednesday, China’s top legislature – the Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress (NPCSC) – approved the plan following a unanimous vote and months of controversy. Hong Kong will effectively surrender its jurisdiction across a quarter of the new West Kowloon terminus, where immigration procedures will be performed by mainland law enforcement agents. Beijing’s “distortion” of the Basic Law in justifying the Express Rail Link’s joint checkpoint arrangement has greatly undermined Hong Kong’s rule of law, legal experts have warned.

下月8日提訊 料親身上庭

民政事務局前局長何志平將於明年1月8日於紐約提訊(arraignment),屆時控方將宣讀控罪,何志平須回答是否認罪。法政匯思成員、美國執業律師Jason Y. Ng表示,除非出現健康問題,否則被告一般要親身出席提訊。

依法限提訊後70日開審 律師指變數仍多

根據美國法例,控方提交起訴書後,案件一般需在70日內開審,但若法官認為有理據,可暫停計算70日限期。有美國執業律師估計,案件開審前仍有可能因安排外國證人到美國出庭等原因而申請豁免計算70日限期,有律師甚至預計案件至少一年後才會正式審訊。

Free speech, selective enforcement and opacity: Problems with the ‘dishonest use of computer’ offence

In 1999, a man named Tsun Shui-lun, a technical assistant at Queen Mary Hospital, retrieved the medical records of the then-Secretary for Justice, Elsie Leung, and proceeded to share them with his friends, family, and the media. He was subsequently found guilty of section 161 of the Crimes Ordinance, a charge which cameinto effect in 1993 and criminalises “access to a computer with criminal or dishonest intent.”  Almost two decades later in 2016, a 22-year-old man was arrested on suspicion of the same charge – for posting erotic writing involving rape, even though the story had been marked as a “work of fiction.”

The naked truth on drones Watching people in bath is OK, lawmaker mocks

Barrister Craig Choy Ki said drone-peeping at someone bathing without recording did not violate the privacy law. "In a legal context, the definition of personal data requires the data to be recorded in a format. Also, the person involved has to be identifiable in the data," said Choy who is convener of the Progressive Lawyers' Group.

Looming national security laws raise fresh fears for Hong Kong’s freedoms

Amid calls from Hong Kong’s pro-Beijing elite for sweeping new national security laws, government advisers and lawyers say the legislation is likely to be tougher than proposals shelved 14 years ago, raising fears about the city’s cherished freedoms. Those demanding urgency for the long-delayed Article 23 are using a fledgling independence movement in the former British colony as justification – even though the independence debate would have been allowed when Article 23 was first proposed in 2003. Lawyers, diplomats and activists fear the new pressure could lead to legal “overkill” in an open city already struggling with increased interference from Beijing’s Communist Party rulers.

All parties deny involvement after US arrests ex-Hong Kong top official Patrick Ho on multi-million dollar bribery charges

All parties involved in the alleged bribery scheme engulfing former Hong Kong official Patrick Ho have denied any involvement, after the Ugandan foreign ministry said it was erroneous to link its minister to Ho. Ho, 68, was arrested in New York last weekend. He stands accused of facilitating multi-million dollar bribes destined for top officials in Chad and Uganda. The funds were transferred via Hong Kong and New York on behalf of a Chinese company to allegedly secure oil rights. If convicted, he faces 20 years in jail. Jason Y. Ng, a New York-qualified attorney and member of the Progressive Lawyers Group, gave HKFP his views on the incident.

Transport chief defends transparency of co-location plan

Secretary for Transport and Housing Frank Chan Fan said the government has been doing its best to make the co-location deal between Hong Kong and mainland China as transparent as possible. He dismissed criticism that the co-location arrangement is a “black box” operation, the Hong Kong Economic Journal reports. Barrister Chris Ng Chung-luen, a spokesperson for the Progressive Lawyers Group, said Hong Kong courts might refuse to accept any challenge against the plan once it is approved and endorsed by the NPCSC, to the detriment of ”one country, two systems”.

法律界倡電視停播國歌免擾民

內地版本的《國歌法》要求奏唱國歌時,在場人員應當肅立。現時本港多個電視頻道都會定期播放國歌,法政匯思召集人蔡騏指,若聽見國歌便要肅立,「好似『123、紅綠燈』咁,過馬路都要停,唔realistic(現實)」,認為法例應規定播放國歌及需要肅立的場合,「泰國睇戲前會播國歌,遊客都會企起身,如果唔想就遲啲入場」。

Tsang boosts high-powered legal team

The high-powered legal team of former chief executive Donald Tsang Yam- kuen appears to be ready with a strong argument against a second retrial on a graft charge being ordered at the High Court today. "If a verdict cannot be reached after two trials it really says something about the quality of evidence and the nature of the charge," said barrister Randy Shek of the Progressive Lawyers Group. However, he added, it is not a formal rule and there could be an exception given Tsang's status as a former top official and the gravity of the charge.

法律界料一般不重審 身分特殊有變數

法政匯思成員、大律師石書銘則指,控方須考慮公眾利益、重審會否對被告造成不公及控罪嚴重性等,再決定是否申請重審。他指,一般而言案件兩次未能達至有效裁決,控方都不會申請重審,惟這並非法例,沒有約束力,加上本案所牽涉的人物本身地位和行為相對特別,若控方申請重審亦可理解。

【國歌法】馬恩國引述立法五核心 法律組織︰只是自說自話

全國人大常委會即將審議將《國歌法》納入《基本法》附件三,香港政府發言人今午(2日)表示,準備以本地立法方式實施《國歌法》,未立法前不會執法。不過,正隨團訪京的民建聯執業大律師馬恩國引述基本法委員會主任李飛稱,港府要處理刑事部分,並指《國歌法》至少有五點「核心要素不能少」。 有本地法律組織認為,由於須經本地立法,所謂核心要素,都只是自說自話。有律師質疑,民政事務局轄下委員會所製廣告截取國歌並穿插對白,都屬「二次創作」。

人大常委審刑法草案辱國歌可囚3年 律師:難效國旗法照抄引入香港

法政匯思成員黃鶴鳴接受《852郵報》查詢時表示,《國歌法》難和《國旗法》直接比較,因所有在港實行的刑事法律,用字都要十分清晰,以免市民誤墮法網,而《國旗法》規限的屬具體行為,如燒或剪爛,甚至倒插國旗等,但唱國歌則有所不同,例如以不同曲風演唱國歌、奏國歌時的神情肢體動是否算侮辱,都是含糊有待澄清之處,故不能《國旗法》直接類比《國旗法》。

‘Co-parking’ in Tsuen Wan: HK$1,500 for 12 days

With the limited supply and soaring prices of parking spaces in Hong Kong, some owners have adopted the sharing economy model to rent out their parking lots on specific days for a fee. In Tsuen Wan’s industrial area near the Sha Tsui Road and Chai Wan Kok Street, hk01.com has discovered that some parking lot owners have posted advertisements for motorists to “co-park” at their spaces. Duncan Ho Dik-hong, barrister and a member of the Progressive Lawyers Group, said the owner of the space should tell renters of the penalties for parking beyond the time limit and the limitations for co-parking in the lease.

Hong Kong gov’t urged to enact freedom of information law after 20 years of delays

IT sector lawmaker Charles Mok has said that civil groups will look into drafting a freedom of information law after criticising the government for making slow progress over the past two decades. The Archives Action Group, led by former director of the Government Records Service Simon Chu, along with the Progressive Lawyers Group, and lawmakers including Mok will look into drafting a bill.

Asia’s world city? Hong Kong ethnic minorities feel targeted by police stop and search actions

British teacher and performer David Allen had just got on his motorbike on a busy street in Ho Man Tin last month when he was suddenly stopped by three police officers asking for his identification papers. It was not the first time he had been stopped by police. But this time, Allen decided to record the exchange because he wanted to show others the prejudice he has faced from police. “Based on my own personal experience, on occasion I have been singled out because of my skin colour. There seems to be a racial bias in policing,” he told HKFP.

Three Years After Occupy, Hong Kong Democracy Movement Stalled, ‘Divided’

Hundreds of democracy activists protested outside government headquarters in Hong Kong on Thursday, marking the third anniversary of the start of the Occupy Central campaign for fully democratic elections that brought hundreds of thousands onto the city's streets at its height. Kevin Yam, convenor of the pro-democracy Progressive Lawyers Group, said the struggle for democracy in the former British colony was unlikely to be achieved quickly, however. "This isn't a flash in the pan; it's going to take a lot of ongoing, hard work from everyone," Yam said. "We will have to swallow our anger and work patiently."

‘A landmark judgment’: Legal experts and banks react to Hong Kong’s key LGBT court ruling

Legal experts have hailed the Court of Appeal’s “landmark” decision on Monday to rule in favour of a lesbian expatriate who was previously refused a spousal visa by the Immigration Department. Geoffrey Yeung, member of Progressive Lawyers Group, told HKFP: “[The] judgment is an important step towards equality for same sex couples in Hong Kong. It is a recognition that same sex relationships in Hong Kong are valid relationships.”

【一地兩檢】研討會將討論七方案 陳帆表明拒出席

一地兩檢關注組(法政匯思為成員之一)聯同大專學界,本周六將於香港大學舉行一地兩檢替代方案研討會,當日會提出7個高鐵邊檢方案,由不同專家講解各方案利弊。

中大再現港獨橫額 校方斥違法

中大文化廣場昨再現「香港獨立」的橫額和單張,校方斥港獨言論「違反香港有關法律」及有違校方立場,表明會清拆。傍晚約20名學生收到消息後聚集廣場守護橫額。學生會斥校方以權欺壓學生,會視乎情況考慮下一步行動。