法政匯思就近來抨擊戴耀廷之聲明 (Statement Regarding Recent Remarks on Benny Tai Yiu-Ting)

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  1. 法政匯思就香港特區政府、建制派政團及媒體對香港大學法律系副教授戴耀廷(下稱「戴教授」)於2018 年3 月24 日在台灣發表的言論,作出毫無根據的指控深表不安。
  2. 法政匯思認為將戴教授的意見詮釋為鼓吹香港獨立是不恰當及與事實不符。
  3. 尤其重要的是,香港政府有責任捍衛基本法第 27 條及 34 條明文保護的言論及學術自由。此外,基本法第 39 條規定香港政府實施《公民權利和政治權利國際公約》。法政匯思強調下列《公民權利和政治權利國際公約》及《香港人權法案》中香港政府必須恪守的條款: 第 2 條第 2 項 [對應《香港人權法案》第 1 條第 1項] 及第 19 條第 1 及 2 項 [對應《香港人權法案》第 16 條]。
  4. 這些得到基本法、《香港人權法案》及《公民權利和政治權利國際公約》保障的權利是香港法治、經濟繁榮乃至於長遠持續發展的基石。法政匯思相信香港政府向戴教授作出的指控,不但與這些原則背道而馳,更會在學術界及市民之間產生寒蟬效應。
  5. 因此,法政匯思促請香港政府撤回就戴教授言論發出的聲明,並向他公開道歉及停止對他作出恫嚇及攻擊。
  6. 法政匯思將繼續密切關注是次事件的發展及其他侵犯言論自由的事宜。我們呼籲其他公民團體及市民就越益狹小的政治空間保持警覺,因為歷史重複告訴我們,當權者針對個別異見人士的意見作出攻擊,就是大規模迫害人權的開始。

法政匯思

2018 年 4月 3 日

PDF 版本﹕

https://goo.gl/8MkL7x

  1. The Progressive Lawyers Group (the “PLG​”) is deeply troubled by the groundless accusations levelled against Mr. Benny Tai Yiu-ting, associate law professor at the University of Hong Kong (“Prof. Tai​”), by the Hong Kong SAR Government (the “Government​”), other pro-establishment political groups and media over comments given by Prof. Tai at a seminar in Taiwan on 24th March 2018.
  2. The PLG believes the interpretation of Prof. Tai’s comments as advocating the independence of Hong Kong is inappropriate and factually incorrect.
  3. It is important to note that the Government is obligated to uphold freedom of speech and academic freedom, which are expressly protected under Articles 27 and 34 of the Basic Law. Furthermore, Article 39 of the Basic Law requires the Government to give effect to the International Covenant of the Civil and Political Rights (“ICCPR​”). The PLG highlights the following relevant articles under the ICCPR and the Hong Kong Bill of Rights (“HKBOR​”) which should be upheld by the Government, namely, Article 2 paragraph 2 [Article 1(1) of HKBOR] and Article 19 paragraphs 1 and 2 [Article 16 of HKBOR].
  4. These guaranteed rights under the Basic Law, HKBOR and the ICCPR form the bedrock of Hong Kong’s rule of law and its economic success and long term viability. The PLG believes that accusations made by the Government against Prof. Tai not only fly in the face of these principles, but they also have a chilling effect on other academics and citizens in Hong Kong.
  5. The PLG therefore urges the Government to retract its statement regarding Prof. Tai’s remarks, issue a public apology to him and cease its intimidation and attacks against him.
  6. The PLG will continue to monitor the development of this and other incidents of encroachment on free expression. It calls on other advocacy groups and fellow citizens to remain vigilant on the shrinking space of political discourse, as history has demonstrated time and again that wholesale assaults on human rights often begin with isolated attacks on opinions that do not accord with those in power.

The Progressive Lawyers Group

3rd April 2018

PDF Version:

https://goo.gl/XqP4va

法政匯思就選舉主任取消被提名人立法會補選資格之聲明 (Statement on the Disqualification of Nominees in the 2018 Legislative Council By-election)

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1. 法政匯思對選舉主任在2018年立法會補選決定其中一位參選人(即周庭小姐)提名無效感到驚愕(「該決定」)。法政匯思亦對香港政府在面對傳媒提問時直接表示支持該決定(「該回應」)而感到極為失望。該決定不單不公正地剝奪了憲法上賦予該名被提名人的參選權,更不公平地限制了香港市民投票予心儀候選人的權利。

2. 法政匯思早在之前有關2016年立法會選舉的聲明中,強調參選權是一種基本權利。今天,我們重申:

(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。同樣地,《香港人權法案條例》 第二十一條規定,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 。這些權利也受到《公民權利和政治權利國際公約》所保障。

(b) 再者,根據《基本法》第二十七條及《香港人權法案條例》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。因此,法政匯思認為「未能擁護《基本法》」及「未能向香港特別行政區效忠」的概念亦應該以狹窄的方式來詮釋。

3. 按字面解釋,《立法會條例》(第542章)第40(1)(b)(i)條內「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」的規定為一項程序性的規定。該條例是否賦予選舉主任權利調查被提名人的思想狀態,以及可否對其簽署聲明時的真誠程度作出決定,我們對此存有極大疑問。但這個正正就是選舉主任於該決定中的作為。

4. 再者,選舉主任本應為政治中立的公務員,並獨立地作出被提名人是否符合提名程序的決定。政府在該回應中亦表示該決定是由選舉主任自行作出。然而,令人擔憂的是,該決定顯然是選舉主任根據律政司司長的法律意見作出的。律政司司長為政治任命官員,亦是政府行政機關的一部份。因此,我們對於選舉主任能夠獨立作出該決定,以及該決定沒有任何政治考慮的說法表示極大的懷疑。政府顯然有份參與該決定(及其他與提名有關的決定)的決策過程,卻把責任一乾二淨地推卸到選舉主任身上。

5. 更遺憾的是,該決定(及其他與提名有關的決定)的決策過程全不透明,官員作風獨斷,程序亦自相矛盾。選舉主任用以判定一個參選人是否真心「擁護基本法」及「誓言效忠香港特別行政區」的準則及證據完全不清晰。有些參選人即使沒有簽署所謂的確認書,但其提名亦被視為有效(例如司馬文先生),而有些參選人(例如姚松炎博士及陳國強先生)則被選舉主任要求在非常短的期限內回答一些看來與其政見有關,含糊及範圍廣闊的問題(而根據《香港人權法案條例》 第二十一條,這些事項與一個人有沒有資格參選是毫無關係的),更有其他人(例如周庭小姐)連就取消其資格所依賴的證據作出回應的機會都沒有,便直接取消其參選資格。這明顯違反程序公義的要求,並且不公平地破壞被提名人參選的權利。

6. 因此,法政匯思對於政府任意妄為地利用選舉規例,並以某些參選人的政治聯繫及政治立場為由取消其資格感到非常擔憂。該決定踐踏了香港永久性居民參與選舉、投票和自由言論的基本權利。我們強烈呼籲政府確保任何有關參選人提名的決定,都能夠切實有效地保障這些基本權利。

法政匯思
2018年1月30日
純文字PDF版﹕https://goo.gl/MGWjRC

The Progressive Lawyers Group’s Statement on the Disqualification of Nominees in the 2018 Legislative Council By-election

1. The Progressive Lawyers Group (“PLG”) is highly dismayed by the decision of the Returning Officer to invalidate the nomination of a candidate (Ms Agnes Chow) for the 2018 Legislative Council By-election (“the Decision”). PLG is also enormously disappointed by the Hong Kong Government’s response to media enquiries (“the Response”), in which the Government explicitly supports the Decision. The Decision has not only unjustly deprived a candidate of the constitutional right to stand for election; it has also unfairly restricted the Hong Kong public’s right to vote for their preferred candidate.

2. In PLG’s previous statement regarding the 2016 Legislative Council election, we emphasised that the right to stand for election is a fundamental right. In the present context, we wish to reiterate that:

(a) Under Article 26 of the Basic Law, all Hong Kong permanent residents have the fundamental right to vote and the right to stand for election. Likewise, Article 21 of the Hong Kong Bill of Rights states 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. These rights are also enshrined in the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.

(b) Further, all Hong Kong permanent residents have the fundamental right to free speech under Article 27 of the Basic Law and Article 16 of the Bill of Rights.

(c) The Hong Kong courts have made clear that any purported restriction on fundamental rights must be interpreted narrowly. It follows, in our view, that a narrow definition must be given to the concepts of ‘failing to uphold the Basic Law’ and ‘failing to pledge allegiance to the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region’.

3. The requirement under section 40(1)(b)(i) of the Legislative Council Ordinance (Cap. 542) for a “declaration to the effect that the person will uphold the Basic Law and pledge allegiance to the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region” is, on its face, a procedural requirement. It is highly questionable whether that subsection empowers the Returning Officer to investigate the nominees’ state of mind and then make a determination on their level of sincerity when signing the declaration. Yet that is precisely what the Returning Officer has done in the Decision.

4. Further, the Returning Officer is supposed to be a politically neutral civil servant who makes an independent decision on whether the nomination procedures have been fulfilled. Indeed, in the Response, the Government has portrayed the Decision as having been made by the Returning Officer. That being the case, it is alarming that the Returning Officer has based her Decision on legal advice from the Secretary of Justice ‒ who is a political appointee and part of the executive branch of the Government. In the circumstances, it is seriously doubtful whether the Returning Officer has made the Decision independently and in a manner that is free from political considerations. It also appears that the Government is trying to shift responsibility for the Decision (and other decisions relating to nominations) onto the Returning Officers, when in fact the Government itself participated in the making of those very decisions.

5. Even more regrettably, the process by which the Decision (and other decisions relating to nominations) were made is opaque, arbitrary, and inconsistent. It is wholly unclear what criteria and evidence would be used by Returning Officers in determining whether a candidate truly has an intention to ‘uphold the Basic Law’ and ‘pledge allegiance to the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region’. Some nominations have been held valid even though the candidate did not sign the so-called confirmation form (e.g. Mr Paul Zimmerman). Some nominees (i.e. Dr Edward Yiu and Mr James Chan) have been requested by the Returning Officer to answer, within a very short timeframe, vague and wide-ranging questions purportedly relating to their political stance (which under Article 21 of the Bill of Rights should be irrelevant to one’s eligibility to stand for election). Yet others (i.e. Ms Chow) have been disqualified without being given any opportunity to respond to the alleged evidence used to justify her disqualification. This clearly violates the requirements of due process, and unfairly undermines nominees’ right to stand for election.

6. Thus, PLG is gravely concerned by the capricious use of electoral regulations to disqualify certain candidates on the basis of their political affiliations and political stance. The Decision has trampled on the fundamental rights of Hong Kong permanent residents to stand for election, to vote, and to engage in free speech. We strongly call upon the Government to ensure that any decision regarding the nomination of candidates gives real and effective protection to such fundamental rights.

Progressive Lawyers Group
30 January 2018
PDF Version: https://goo.gl/t67V14

 

法政匯思就人大常委會關於「一地兩檢」決定的聲明 (Statement on the Decision of NPCSC on the “Co-Location” Arrangement)

【法政匯思就人大常委會關於「一地兩檢」決定的聲明】
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就全國人民代表大會常務委員會於2017年12月27日通過「一地兩檢」合作安排的決定(「該決定」),法政匯思有以下回應:

1. 該決定實際上反映香港及中國政府不惜代價以不受制約的權力曲解基本法、破壞「一國兩制」,就此法政匯思表示極度遺憾和憤慨。

2. 法政匯思早在 2017 年9月18日已就一地兩檢提議發表我們的意見(詳見《有關高速鐵路香港段一地兩檢安排的陳述書》:https://goo.gl/pyLgNX)。該決定雖然引述了某些《基本法》條文,但皆為普遍性的條款,不可能提供法律基礎於任何香港地域以大陸法律取代《基本法》及香港法律。我們於以上意見批評一地兩檢安排為以法令統治的結論仍然成立。我們認為香港法律界有責任及時、而不是待事件發展至幾乎無法挽回時,才就重要的法律議題發表遲來的意見。

3. 法政匯思留意到不少法律界人士、學者及團體(包括大律師公會),已經就該決定批准的一地兩檢安排欠缺法理依據一事作出評論。我們呼籲香港及中國政府懸崖勒馬,勿讓該決定成為破壞一國兩制上的最後一根稻草。

法政匯思
2017年12月29日

 

Statement of the Progressive Lawyers Group on the Decision of NPCSC on the “Co-Location” Arrangement

The Progressive Lawyers Group (“PLG”) responds as follows in relation to the decision made by the NPCSC on the “Co-Location” Arrangement on 27 December 2017 (“Decision”):

1. The PLG is in deep regret and outrage that the Decision reflects that the Hong Kong and Chinese Government have resorted to unlimited and unrestrained powers to twist the Basic Law at all costs. “One Country, Two Systems” is irreparably damaged.

2. As early as on 18 September 2017, the PLG had already issued our Submission on the Co-Location Arrangement (“Earlier Submission”) (available at: https://goo.gl/pyLgNX). Although the NPCSC referred to certain Articles of the Basic Law in its Decision, we note that these Articles are general and cannot provide any legal basis to support the application of PRC laws in any Hong Kong territory in replacement of the application of the Basic Law and Hong Kong laws. We stand by our conclusion in our Earlier Submission that the Co-Location Arrangement represents a rule by decree in Hong Kong. We believe that the legal profession in Hong Kong has the responsibility to provide its opinion to the public on important legal issues in Hong Kong in a timely fashion and not to idle until when the affairs have progressed to an irreversible state.

3. The PLG notes that various members of the legal profession, academics and groups (including the Hong Kong Bar Association) have recently proffered their opinion on the lack of legality of the Co-Location Arrangement. We hereby appeal to the Hong Kong and Chinese Government to exercise self-restraint and to stop before it is too late, such that the Decision will not become the last straw in the damage to “One Country, Two Systems”.

The Progressive Lawyers Group
29 December 2017

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法政匯思就有關高速鐵路香港段一地兩檢安排的陳述書 (Submission on Express Rail Link Co-Location Arrangement)

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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>

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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)

 

法政匯思就「反新界東北」及「926重奪公民廣場」刑期覆核裁決聲明 (Statement in response to recent Court of Appeal sentencing reviews)

(Please scroll down for the English version)

於2017年8月15及17日,上訴庭分別就律政司提出「反新界東北」及「926重奪公民廣場」案件的刑期作出覆核,改判「反新界東北」案的13名被告人8至13 個月監禁及「926重奪公民廣場」案的黃之峰、羅冠聰及周永康三人6至8個月監禁,法政匯思對此裁決深感悲痛。

法政匯思認為案情重點在於兩宗案件中的被告人的出發點並非為個人利益,而是為了改善社會、為弱勢社群發聲及推進本港民主發展,理念崇高,與世界上多位曾以抗命形式爭取公義、抵抗歪風名留青史的偉人不相伯仲。兩案覆核加重對各被告人的刑罰,意在阻嚇其他同類事件再度發生。惟是次重刑不單只是懲罰犯法的被告人,還淹沒了一整代敢言年青人對社會的熱血及香港人對民主公義的渴求。

法政匯思不認為以檢控或威權能夠處理政治問題。重刑不但無助解決根本的政治問題,更突顯香港因政府未能以民主方式產生所衍生的社會問題。誠如終審法院非常任法官包致金於2016 年時所言:「即使沒有民主,仍可保持司法獨立,但不代表可以「有效地」維持港人現有生活方法。」因此,法庭絕非解決政治問題的合適地方。

最後,法政匯思寄望當權者能認清問題的根源,儘快落實《基本法》賦予港人的真普選,以政治智慧解決政治及社會問題,毋需法院介入,使香港賴以成功的司法獨立及法院中立性得以維持

Upon the Secretary for Justice’s applications, the Court of Appeal this week reviewed the sentences for thirteen participants in the anti-northeast New Territories development protests and three prominent student leaders—Joshua Wong, Nathan Law and Alex Chow—involved in the re-taking of the Civic Square. The Court of Appeal overruled the original sentences in both cases and imposed eight to thirteen months of imprisonment on the thirteen protesters and six to eight months of imprisonment on the three student leaders. The Progressive Lawyers Group (“PLG”) is deeply aggrieved by these judgments.

The PLG believes that the defendants involved had acted not for their self-interests but the betterment of the society. They spoke up for the oppressed and fought for universal suffrage in Hong Kong. Their motivations are noble and their actions are no less laudable than those championed by history’s great civil rights leaders.

By imposing much heavier penalties on these defendants, the review cases aim at deterring similar incidents from happening again. However, harsh sentences do much more than punishing the offenders; they also silence dissent and discourage civil society, especially the younger generations, from engaging in political discourse.

The PLG does not believe that political issues should or can be addressed by the courts. Chronic social problems and the frustrations and resentment they engender underscore the lack of accountability of an unelected government. As Mr. Justice Kemal Bokhary, a non-permanent judge of the Court of Final Appeal, said in 2016, “A judiciary can remain independent even in the absence of democracy, but that doesn’t mean to say that the judiciary would be effective in preserving the Hong Kong lifestyle in the absence of democracy.”

The PLG calls on those in power to recognise the socio-political issues underlying the crimes committed by the protesters and work to resolve these issues by engaging civil society and restarting the dialogue on universal suffrage. Any further attempt to seek intervention of the courts will only call into question Hong Kong’s judicial independence and impartiality of the courts—a bedrock for the city’s prosperity.

 

鉛水風波修例建議 (Law Reform after the “Lead-contamination Water Saga”)

發展局接納部分由法政匯思及前線科技人員就《2017年水務設施(修訂)規例》提出的聯合建議,將會提交修訂予立法會通過,詳看以下連結:

The Development Bureau has accepted part of the joint submissions of Progressive Lawyers Group and Frontline Tech Workers on Waterworks (Amendment) Regulation 2017 and will propose amendments to the Legislative Council accordingly, for details, please refer to the link below:

英年早逝的曉波兄 (Liu Xiaobo’s Shortened Yet Noble Life)

1. 中國人權份子、《零八憲章》作者之一、2010諾貝爾和平獎得主、良心犯劉曉波先生剛剛與世長辭,享年61歲。
1. Mr Liu Xiaobo, a Chinese human rights activist, co-author of Charter 08, 2010 Nobel Peace Prize winner and prisoner of conscience, has just passed away at the age of 61.

2. 法政匯思全體成員為劉先生的過世深切哀悼,亦向他的親友、特別是他的未亡人劉霞女士表達深切慰問。但願劉先生在天之靈現在能享有他生前被剝削的自由。但願劉女士不再被政權滋擾了。

2. Members of the Progressive Lawyers Group deeply mourn the passing of Mr Liu. We send our condolences to Mr Liu’s family and friends, in particular his widow Ms Liu Xia. May Mr Liu’s spirit now enjoy the freedom that was denied to him in life. May Ms Liu no longer be harassed by those in power.

3. 劉先生的過世必然會帶來釋放所有良心犯的呼喊。但在悲痛的今天,就讓我們先把我們心神向劉先生致敬、向劉女士慰問。公義的一天必會來臨。

3. Mr Liu’s passing inevitably adds to the chorus calling for the release of all prisoners of conscience. But on this painful day, let us first focus our heart and soul to paying tribute to Mr Liu and expressing our care for Ms Liu. Justice will definitely be with us one day.

法政匯思

2017年7月13日

Progressive Lawyers Group

13 July 2017

對於《2017年水務設施(修訂)規例》 之聯合陳述書和擬議修正案 (Waterworks (Amendment) Regulations 2017 – Joint Submissions and Proposed Amendments)

(Please scroll down for English version)

法政匯思

前線科技人員
對於《2017年水務設施(修訂)規例》
之聯合陳述書和擬議修正案

A.     背景

1. 於二零一七年三月二十八日經行政會議建議,行政長官命令修訂《水務設施規例》(第102A章)(「該規例」),並製定《2017年水務設施(修訂)規例》(「該修訂」)。

2.    根據該修訂,發展局建議更新適用的標準,以便在該規例中用以下方式列出供水系統物料的最新的技術要求和標準 :-

(a)    向水務監督提供根據第20(1)條要求符合附表2所列要求和訂明規格說明的權力,包括有權批准 :-

(i)    任何與第20(2)條所述喉管或裝置的訂明規格說明的偏差; 和

(ii)    任何不符合第25(2)條規定附表2所載的喉管或裝置的規格說明的安裝;

(b)    修改適用於供水系統工程的喉管或裝置的標準的定義;

(c)    更新該規例附表2以詳述適用於供水系統物料的技術要求和標準。

B.     我們的觀察

3.     法政匯思及前線科技人員就該修訂提出以下觀察 :-

(a)     就水務監督批准不符合規定標準的喉管或裝置及其安裝的權力,我們認為給予水務監督的酌情權力過大,沒有充足的限制,容易被濫用。就第20(2)條,水務監督沒有可參考的國際標準,而在第25(2)條中,既沒有行使這種權力的指引也沒有對這種權力本身的限制。 因此,我們擔心如此廣泛的酌情權力可能不能達致確保供水系統物料符合附表2所規定的標準或訂明規格說明的目的;

(b)    該修訂並沒有規定水務監督進行核實有差別的標準和規格說明的程序,以確保其達到合適水平;

(c)    該修訂的附表2並沒有納入一些國際公認的標準。此外,擬採用的標準亦未包括所有可能找到的供水系統物料 :-

(i)     該修訂第3條中未能包括所有通常用於測試供水系統物料安全性所適用的標準和規格說明;

(ii)    附表2中沒有訂明關於微生物學或化學測試的要求或標準。由英國標準協會發出的英國標準(「BS」)、 由英國標準協會發出的歐洲標準(「BS EN」)、構成由英國標準協會發出的國際標準的一部份的規格說明(「BS EN ISO」)或構成由澳州標準局發出的澳州標準的一部份的規格說明(「AS」)等所列的要求,均僅是第20(2)條 中建議關於進行機械試驗的要求,例如 BS EN 200:2008的第5.1和5.2條只簡要提及化學和衛生要求;而BS EN 200:2008的標準中並沒有列出銅合金的複合成分和不銹鋼的複合成分;

(iii)    BS、BS EN、BS EN ISO和 AS 沒有列出所述測試要求的細節。製造商或測試實驗室將無法了解任何有關金屬供水系統物料的複合成分的要求,例如混水器的標準、BS EN 817:2008;

(d)     該修訂附表2沒有包括所有適用作供水系統物料的物料 :-

(i)    根據第1部「喉管及裝置」中的第3段要求:「淡水內部供水系統裏的喉管,須以鑄鐵、延性鐵、低塑性聚氯乙烯、聚丁烯、鋼、不銹鋼、銅、聚乙烯、高密度交聯狀聚乙烯或氯化聚氯乙烯製造…」然而,其他物料亦可用於淡水內部供水系統裏的喉管,例如:潤滑劑、矽膠密封環、人造橡膠密封環等。然而,這些物料尚未受管制,以符合任何該修訂中的標準或規格說明;

(ii)    尤其在塑膠物料中,聚氯乙烯經常被用作為鉛的穩定劑。多環芳烴、鎘和有機錫均是在可用於喉管和裝置的硬身塑膠中經常可以找到的。然而,上述物料的測試標準和要求並不包括在附表2內;

(iii)    附表20第1部《喉管及裝置》第20段要求「不鏽鋼喉管須屬304等級或更佳等級」。然而,氯離子有可能會製造出局部腐蝕範圍,而該腐蝕範圍有可能在底下擴散至具保護性的鉻防護屏障,並危及內部架構。因此我們提出現時法定要求的不鏽鋼等級太低;

(iv)    附表2第1部《喉管及裝置》第1段並沒有包含經常可見於以鋼和鑄鐵喉管和裝置塗層的瀝清之標準測試或要求;

(v)    附表2並沒有包含於Tapes BS 和 BS EN標準列出的銅合金和不鏽鋼複合成分的要求;

(vi)    非金屬物料如潤滑劑、矽膠密封環、人造橡膠密封環,均不在附表第2部《水龍頭及閥門》的規管之下;及

(vii)    附表2第4部《熱水器》並沒有規管為供人使用食水所製造的熱水器;

(e) 該修訂未能提供必定不能使用於供水系統物料之物料清單。鎳鉻電鍍可常見於銅合金部件,例如加在水龍頭和閥門表面,以防止腐蝕及改善阻力和外觀。黃銅組件內部的縫隙附近亦有可能受鎳鉻電鍍影響,鎳鉻有可能被釋出及在使用期間污染水質。不幸地,以上所述均未受附件2的任何標準監管;

(f)     當在食水中發現大量鉛後,水務監督曾發表為期5年的物料許可準則。然而,若附表2的標準屆滿5年,或該標準在5年中途有更改,水務監督並未有提出任何措施補救該修訂的漏洞;及

(g)     該修訂未能處理供水系統物料老化或氧化的問題。

C.     我們的建議

4.   根據我們在本聯合陳述書第3段提及的觀察,法政匯思和前線科技人員對該修訂有下列修改建議 :-

(a)    承接本聯合陳述書的第3(a)段,我們建議水務監督只可在合乎第20(2)條下的兩項要求時,才可行使權力批准訂明規格說明的違規情況。我們亦建議當水務監督要決定喉管或裝置的安全會否受負面影響時,應參考美國的AS 4030、NSF 60 和 61,或德國聯邦環境處發出的《指引和評估標準》,以其標準和要求作為依歸。因此我們建議該修訂第7條下的第20(2)條應被刪除,並以下列修正代替 :-

「(2) 喉管或裝置與訂明規格說明的偏差並不構成規格說明的違規情況,水務監督只可在對以下情況不構成負面影響時批准有關違規情況 —

(a)    消防供水系統及安裝了喉管及裝置以提供可靠、充足水源的內部供水系統的效率;

(b)    供水之質素;和

(c)    參考美國國家標準協會的AS 4030,、NSF 60 和 61,或德國聯邦環境處發出的《指引和評估標準》下有關喉管和裝置的標準和/或要求」;

(b)    承接本聯合陳述書第3(a)段,我們建議水務監督在運用其權力批准安裝不符合訂明規格說明的喉管及裝置時需考慮第20(2)條下所列明的因素,而且該修訂的第5條應完全刪除,並以下列修訂建議取代 :-

「修訂規例第25條(放寬規例的權力)

規例第25條 –

廢除該條第(2)款

代以

「(2) 即使附表 2 規定喉管或裝置須符合某訂明規格說明,水務監督仍可批准安裝不符合該規格說明的喉管或裝置,但批准必須在該等安裝對下列因素並無負面影響的情況下方可作出 :-

(a) 消防供水系統及安裝了喉管及裝置以提供可靠、充足水源的內部供水系統的效率;

(b) 供水之質素;及

(c) 參考美國國家標準協會的AS 4030,、NSF 60 和 61,或德國聯邦環境處發出的《指引和評估標準》下有關喉管和裝置的標準和/或要求」;

(c)    承接本聯合陳述書第3(b)及(c)段之意見, 我們建議應給予水務監督發出要求及審閱測試報告的權力,並將第20(3)條修訂如下 :-

「、檢查、檢驗、測試該喉管或裝置或要求及審閱任何測試報告,以確定它是否符合訂明規格說明。」

(d)   為標明我們在本聯合陳述書第3(d)(i)段已提及的某些常用非金屬物料及產品,我們建議將第1部第23段修訂如下 :-

「非金屬物料及產品,包括但不限於潤滑劑、矽膠密封環及人造橡膠密封環等,如在使用時會接觸擬供人使用食水,則須符合 BS 6920-1:2014 … 的相關規定。」

(e) 為處理我們對本聯合陳述書上述第3(d)(ii)段所表達的關注,我們建議在第1部加入以下段落 :-

24. 多環芳烴、鎘和有機錫必須符合2017年 REACH 限制物質清單 (附件十七)的規定

(f)     就上述第3(d)(iii)段所提及的等級,我們建議採納較高的316等級或更佳等級;

(g) 就本聯合陳述書第3(d)(iv)段,我們建議當瀝青混入搪瓷,應當參照BS EN 10300 (特別是 BS EN 10300 中第4.2.4條),於第一部加入以下測試標準。搪瓷中的鉛和鎘的特定移動應根據歐盟指示 84/500/EEC進行測試;

(h)    我們亦建議把第一部第23段整段抄入第二部,並在第二部加入新的第22段。正如我們在第3(d)(iv)段提及,此改動用以管制用於水龍頭和閥門的非金屬物料及產品 :-

「用於接觸到擬供人使用食水的非金屬物料及產品,包括但不限於潤滑劑、矽膠密封環及人造橡膠密封環等,必須符合 BS6920/1:2014的有關規定……」;

(i) 我們亦提議緊隨在第四部第11段後加入新的第12段 —「熱水內部供水系統」,以處理第3(d)(iv)段的問題 :-

為供人使用食水而銷售、安裝或製造的熱水器不得以有損水質的金屬、非金屬或焊料製造。

(j)    正如本聯合陳詞第3(d)段指出,該修訂的附表並沒有提及有很多其他物料。因此,我們提議採用一個全面的金屬清單,列出在供水過程使用的所有物料。歐盟提供了良好的參考,即在4MS普通步驟下應用的接觸食水的產品可接受使用的金屬物料,這已在荷蘭和德國被採用及實行;

(k)    就如何處理如本聯合陳述書第3(e)段所提述不應用於任何供水系統物料的物料,我們建議附件2應包含違禁物料的清單。水務監督應保留權利,不時更新該清單直至證明其滿足若干用於任何喉管及裝置的測試。例如,德國禁止以鎳鉻片作爲供水系統物料的任何部份,除非該等鎳鉻片部份通過DIN EN 15664-1的測試要求。水務監督不應保留任何酌情權,以批准違規情況或允許裝置或使用包含清單所述相關物料的任何供水系統物料;及

(l)    有關處理本聯合陳述書第3(f)段所提述的問題,我們建議水務監督參考德國處理德國安全認證(「GS」)的做法。一般而言,如相關標準(EN 或DIN EN)維持有效,一個GS證書或標記的有效日期為5年。但是,如果在該5年期間内任何標準有所更新或更改,該GS證書或標記的持有人必需根據經認可的認證機構的新標準為物料提交更新的測試結果。

D.     總結

5.     總而言之,法政匯思和前線科技人員認為修改該規例只是保障我們水質的一小步。特別是,我們注意到擬議的測試標準及將訂明規格説明似乎是針對對供水系統物料進行機械和物理測試,然而整個修訂中缺乏水質的微生物及衛生測試。因此,我們認為應制定獨立的食水安全草案,以解決真正的水質問題,為我們社會的長遠利益著想。

日期:2017年6月27日

法政匯思

前線科技人員
共同提交

 

Waterworks (Amendment) Regulations 2017
Joint Submissions and Proposed Amendments
by
Progressive Lawyers Group
&
Frontline Tech Workers Group

 

A.     BACKGROUND

1. On 28th March 2017, the Executive Council advised and the Chief Executive ordered that the Waterworks Regulations (Cap. 102A) (“WWR”) be amended and the Waterworks (Amendment) Regulation 2017 (the “Amendment”) be made.

2.    Pursuant to the Amendment, the Development Bureau proposed to update the applicable standards such that the latest technical requirements and standards for plumbing materials are set out in the WWR by:-

(a) providing the Water Authority with the power to demand compliance of the requirements and prescribed specifications set down under Schedule 2 in accordance with r20(1), including the power to approve:-

(i) any departure from the prescribed specification for a pipe or fitting under r20(2); and

(ii) any installation of a pipe or fitting that does not comply with the specification under Schedule 2 in accordance with r25(2);

(b)    amending the definition of the standards applicable to pipes and fittings for plumbing works;

(c)    updating Schedule 2 of the WWR to specify the applicable technical requirements and standards for plumbing materials.

B.     OUR OBSERVATIONS

3.    The Progressive Lawyers Group (“PLG”) and the Frontline Tech Workers Group (“FTWG”) make the following observations in relation to the Amendments:-

(a)     In respect of the Water Authority’s power to approve pipes, fitting and installation which are not compliant with the requisite standards, we submit that the Water Authority is given too wide a discretionary power without sufficient restrictions which could easily be abused.  Under r20(2), there are no international standards to which the Water Authority should make reference, whilst  in sub-regulation r25(2) there are neither guidelines nor restrictions to limit the exercise of such power at all.  We are therefore concerned that such a wide discretionary power may not serve the purpose of ensuring compliance of the plumbing materials up to the required standards or prescribed specifications under Schedule 2;

(b)   The Amendment does not stipulate the procedures as to how the Water Authority should conduct checking to ensure compliance of the variable standards and the specifications;

(c)    Under Schedule 2 of the Amendment, some internationally recognised standards are absent. Furthermore, the standards proposed to be adopted do not include all the materials that could be found in the plumbing materials:-

(i) Under Clause 3 of the Amendment, not all applicable standards and specifications commonly used to test the safety of plumbing materials are included;

(ii)    There are no requirements or standards in relation to microbiology or chemical tests under Schedule 2. The requirements listed under the British Standard issued by the British Standard Institution (“BS”), the European Standard issued by the British Standard Institution (“BS EN”), a specification forming part of the International Standard issued by the British Standards Institution (“BS EN ISO”) or a specification forming part of the Australian Standard issued by the Standards Australia (“AS”) are only requirements of performing mechanical test as proposed under r20(2) For example, the chemical and hygiene requirements only briefly referred to clauses 5.1 and 5.2 of BS EN 200:2008. The copper alloy compositions and stainless steel compositions are not listed in the standard of BS EN 200:2008 either; and

(iii)    There are no details of testing requirements under BS, BS EN, BS EN ISO and AS. The manufacturers or testing laboratories would not be able to find out any requirements of the compositions of the metallic plumbing materials, for example, the water mixer standard, BS EN 817:2008;

(d)   Schedule 2 of the Amendment does not include all of the materials used in the plumbing materials:-

(i) Under paragraph 3 of Part 1, Pipes and Fittings, “Pipes for a fresh water inside service must be made of cast iron, ductile iron, unplasticized polyvinyl chloride, polybutylene, steel, stainless steel, copper, polyethylene, crosslinked polyethylene or chlorinated polyvinyl chloride…” are required. However, other materials could be used in pipes for a fresh water inside service, for example, lubricants, silicone sealing rings, elastomers sealing rings etc.  Yet these materials are not regulated to comply with any standards or specifications in the Amendments;

(ii) Lead is commonly used in plastic materials as a stabilizer, especially in PVC. Polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, cadmium and organotin are commonly found in hard plastics that may be used in a pipe and fitting. However, testing standards and requirements on the above materials are not included under Schedule 2;

(iii)    Under paragraph 20 of Part 1, Pipes and Fittings, in Schedule 2, “Stainless steel pipes must be of grade 304 or better…” are required. However, chlorine ions might create localized areas of corrosion and such corrosion could spread underneath to the protective chromium barriers and compromise the internal structures. We thus submit that the required grade for stainless steel is too low;

(iv)    Under paragraph 1 of Part 1, Pipes and Fittings, in Schedule 2, the standard test or requirement for bitumen is not available which is commonly found in the coating of the pipes and fittings made of steel and cast iron;

(v)    No copper alloy and stainless steel composition requirements listed in Tapes BS and BS EN standards under Part 2;

(vi)   Non-metallic material, for example lubricants, silicone sealing rings, elastomers sealing rings, are not regulated under Part 2, Tapes and Valves, of the Schedule; and

(vii)   The water heater made for the purpose of human consumption of drinking water is not regulated under Part 4, Water Heaters, of the Schedule 2;

(e)   The Amendment fails to provide a list of materials that must not be used in any plumbing materials. Nickel-chromium plating is commonly found in copper alloy components, such as mixer taps and valves, to prevent corrosion and improve resistance and appearance by plating it on the surface of tapes and valves. The inside of these brass components might also be affected by the nickel-chromium plating near the apertures and the nickel-chromium might be released and could contaminate the water during the service life of these components. Unfortunately, such is not regulated to comply with any standards under Schedule 2;

(f)   After excessive lead was found in drinking water, the Water Authority issued the materials approval standard which is supposed to be valid for 5 years from the issue date. However, if the validity of the standards under Schedule 2 expire or are being updated during any time in this 5-year period, the Water Authority failed to mention any measures to remedy such loophole in the Amendment; and

(g) The Amendment fails to address the problems of aging or oxygenised plumbing materials.

C.     OUR RECOMMENDATIONS 

4.    In light of our observations in paragraph 3 of these Joint Submissions, the PLG and the FTWG recommend the following revisions to the Amendments:-

(a)    In furtherance of paragraph 3(a) of these Joint Submissions, we propose that the Water Authority may only exercise such power to approve non-compliance of the prescribed specification only when both requirements under r20(2) are satisfied. We also recommend that the standards and requirements of AS 4030, NSF 60 & 61 of United States or the Guidelines and Evaluation Criteria issued by Umweltbundesamt of Germany should be referred to when the Water Authority is to determine whether the safety of the pipe or fitting might be adversely affected. Therefore, we recommend that r20(2) under Clause 7 of the Amendment be deleted in its entirety and be replaced by the following proposed revision:-

“(2)    A departure from a prescribed specification for a pipe or fitting does not amount to non-compliance with the specification for the pipe or fitting, which may be permitted by the Water Authority only if the departure does not adversely affect–

(a)    the efficiency of the fire service or inside service in which the pipe or fitting is installed in providing reliable and adequate supply of water;

(b)    the quality of the water; and

(c)    the standards and/or requirements of the pipe or fitting with reference to the standards and requirements of AS 4030, NSF 60 & 61 of United States or the Guidelines and Evaluation Criteria issued by Umweltbundesamt  of Germany.”;

(b)    In furtherance of paragraph 3(a) of these Joint Submissions, we propose to require the Water Authority to consider the same factors under r20(2) in exercising its power to approve installation of pipes and fittings that does not comply with the prescribed specifications and Clause 5 of the Amendment to be deleted in its entirety and replaced by the following proposed revision:-

“Regulation 25 amended (power to relax regulations)

Regulation 25 —

Repeal subregulation (2)

Substitute

“(2)  Despite the requirement in Schedule 2 for a pipe or fitting to comply with a prescribed specification the Water Authority may approve the installation of a pipe or fitting that does not comply with the specification only if such installation does not adversely affect —

(a)     the efficiency of the fire service or inside service in which the pipe or fitting is installed in providing reliable and adequate supply of water;

(b)     the quality of the water; and

(c)     the standards and/or requirements of the pipe or fitting with reference to the standards and requirements of AS 4030, NSF 60 & 61 issued by American National Standards Institute of the United States or the Guidelines and Evaluation Criteria issued by Umweltbundesamt  of Germany.”;

(c) In furtherance of our observation under paragraphs 3(b) and (c) of these Joint Submission, we propose that the Water Authority be equipped with the power to demand and inspect test reports, such that r20(3) be amended as follows:-

“, inspect, examine, test, or request and inspect any test reports of a pipe or fitting to ascertain whether it complies with a prescribed specification.”;

(d) To specify some commonly used non-metallic materials and products we have addressed under paragraph 3(d)(i) of these Joint Submissions, we recommend to amend paragraph 23 of Part 1 as follows:-

” Non-metallic materials and products, including but not limited to lubricants, silicone sealing rings, elastomers sealing rings etc., for use in contact with water intended for human consumption must comply with the relevant requirements in BS6920/1:2014…”

(e)   To address the concern under paragraph 3(d)(ii) above, a new paragraph is proposed be added under Part I:-

: 24. Polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, cadmium and organotin must comply with the REACH Restricted Substance List of 2017 (annex XVII)”

(f)     For the grade under paragraph 3(d)(iii) above, we propose that a higher grade of 316 or better should be adopted;

(g)   In response to paragraph 3(d)(iv) of these Joint Submissions, we suggest to add the following testing standard to Part 1 with reference to BS EN 10300 (in particularly clause 4.2.4 of BS EN 10300) when bitumen is mixed with enamel. Specific migration of lead and cadmium for enamel should be tested according to the EU Directive 84/500/EEC;

(h)    We also recommend to copy the whole paragraph 23 of Part 1 to Part 2 and to add a new paragraph 22 in Part 2 to regulate non-metallic materials and products used in Taps and Valves as we have mentioned in paragraph 3(d)(vi):-

“Non-metallic materials and products, including but not limited to lubricants, silicone sealing rings, elastomers sealing rings etc, for use in contact with water intended for human consumption must comply with the relevant requirements in BS6920/1:2014… …”;

(i)     We also propose that a new paragraph 12 be added immediately after paragraph 11 of Part 4, Hot Water Inside Services to address the issue under paragraph 3(d)(vii),

“A water heater sold, installed or manufactured for the purpose of human consumption of the drinking water must not be made of metallic, non-metallic or solder materials that may adversely affect the water quality.”

(j)   As pointed out in paragraph 3(d) of these Joint Submission, there are many other materials not mentioned under the Schedule of the Amendment. Therefore, we propose that a comprehensive metallic list for all materials in the process of water supplies should be adopted. The European Union provided a good reference, which is the Acceptance of Metallic Materials Used for products in contact with drinking water by 4MS Common Approach .This has been adopted and implemented in the Netherlands and Germany;

(k)     In order to handle the materials which should never be used in any plumbing materials as commented on under paragraph 3(e) of these Joint Submissions, we recommend that a list of banned materials should be included under Schedule 2.  The Water Authority should retain the power to update the list from time to time unless proof of satisfaction of certain tests to be used in any pipes and fittings. For example, in Germany, nickel-chromium plate for any parts of plumbing materials is banned unless such nickel-chromium plate component passes the testing requirements of DIN EN 15664-1.  The Water Authority should not be allowed to retain any discretion to approve non-compliance or permit the installation or use of any plumbing materials that contains such materials under the list; and

(l)    In addressing the problem raised in paragraph 3(f) of these Joint Submissions, the Water Authority is advised to make reference to the practice in Germany on how Germany handles its Geprüfte Sicherheit (“GS”) standard. In general, the validity of a GS certificate or mark is valid for 5 years if the standards (EN or DIN EN) remained valid. However, in case any standard is updated or changed during the 5-year period, the GS certificate or mark holder must submit updated test results on the materials based on the new standard with the accredited certification bodies.

D.     CONCLUSION

5.     To conclude, the PLG and the FTWG believe that amending the WWR is only a small step to ensure our water quality.  In particular, we note that the proposed testing standards and prescribed specifications appear to be aimed at conducting mechanical and physical tests of the plumbing materials, and yet microbiological and hygiene tests for water quality are absent throughout the whole Amendment.  Therefore, we submit that an independent water safety bill should be enacted to tackle the real issue of water quality for the long-term benefit of our society.

Dated: 27th of June 2017

Jointly Submitted by
Progressive Lawyers Group
&
Frontline Tech Workers Group

Submission originally appeared in Stand News on 10 July 2017

Response to Zhang Dejiang’s and Rao Geping’s Speeches in Relation to the 20th Anniversary of the Implementation of the Basic Law (法政匯思回應張德江及饒戈平有關基本法實施20周年的講話)

Zhang Dejiang, Chairman of the National People’s Congress and Rao Geping, Chinese representative member of the Basic Law Committee have recently and respectively made important speeches in relation to the 20th anniversary of the implementation of the Basic Law. The Progressive Lawyers Group (“PLG”) is deeply disturbed by some of the contents of these speeches, believing that they are in contradiction to the “One Country, Two Systems” framework stipulated by the Basic Law. The following is an outline of the major relevant points:

I. The Basic Law stipulates “Hong Kong people administering Hong Kong

  1. As described in the preamble of the Basic Law, the PRC Government and the British Government signed the Joint Declaration affirming that upon resumption of the exercise of sovereignty over Hong Kong, the PRC Government would establish a Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (“HKSAR”) under the PRC’s fundamental policy of “One Country, Two Systems”. Annex 1 to the Sino-British Joint Declaration sets out specifically the fundamental policies of the PRC Government in respect of Hong Kong, which include, Hong Kong enjoys “a high degree of autonomy, except for foreign and defence affairs which are the responsibilities of the Central People’s Government”, Hong Kong being vested “with executive, legislative and independent judicial power, including that of final adjudication”, and that the Government and legislature of Hong Kong “shall be composed of local inhabitants”.
  2. The National People’s Congress therefore regulates the system to be implemented in Hong Kong through the Basic Law, which expounds the above fundamental policy of “Hong Kong people administering Hong Kong”. The individual provisions of the Basic Law set out in more detail how such fundamental policy shall be applied. This includes the establishment of Hong Kong’s executive, legislative and judicial power, that the executive and legislative authorities shall be composed of the people of Hong Kong, and that the Chief Executive of Hong Kong shall be a Hong Kong person and elected by Hong Kong people, only upon which shall be appointed by the Central Government, etc.
  3. Zhang also confirmed in his speech that the PRC’s fundamental policies of “Hong Kong people administering Hong Kong” and “high degree of autonomy” remain unchanged.
  4. The most important provision establishing “Hong Kong people administering Hong Kong” in the Basic Law is Article 22, i.e. “No department of the Central People’s Government and no province, autonomous region, or municipality directly under the Central Government may interfere in the affairs which the HKSAR administers on its own in accordance with this Law.” 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”.
  5. In Zhang and Rao’s speeches, they say regulations have to be stipulated and particularised, in order to implement the principle where “the Central Government orders and directs the Chief Executive”. Unfortunately, both of them did not state the ambit of the relevant “orders” or “directions”.
  6. If the relevant “orders” or “directions” concern “foreign and defence affairs”, then they fall within the responsibility of the Central Government. Articles 13 and 14 of the Basic Law state that they are to be handled by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs’ office in Hong Kong and military forces stationed by the Central Government in Hong Kong.
  7. In contrast, if such orders and directions do not fall within the ambit of “foreign and defence affairs”, then they are local affairs. According to Article 16 of the Basic Law, the HKSAR shall “on its own” conduct the administrative affairs of the region. Therefore, PLG cannot see any basis how any department of the Central Government could set regulations on making orders or directions to the Chief Executive without violating Article 22 of the Basic Law.

II. The Basic Law grants the HKSAR with legislative power

  1. Besides, Zhang also mentioned that particularised regulations should be stipulated in order to implement “the power to review the reported laws of the HKSAR”.
  2. Article 17 of the Basic Law states that the HKSAR shall be vested with legislative power. Laws enacted by the legislature of Hong Kong must be reported to the Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress (“NPCSC”) for the record. The reporting for record shall not affect the entry into force of such laws. If the NPCSC, after consulting the Committee for the Basic Law, considers that any law enacted by the legislature of Hong Kong is not in conformity with the provisions of the Basic Law regarding affairs within the responsibility of the Central Government or regarding the relationship between the Central Government and the HKSAR, the NPCSC may return the law in question but shall not amend it. Any law returned by the NPCSC shall immediately be invalidated. This invalidation shall not have retroactive effect, unless otherwise provided for in the laws of the HKSAR.
  3. It can be seen that the NPCSC only has the power to return the laws of Hong Kong when the same violates the relevant provisions of the Basic Law on the affairs governed by the Central Government or provisions on the relationship between the Central Government and the HKSAR. If the relevant laws do not touch upon the affairs governed by the Central Government, or the relationship between the Central Government and the HKSAR, then the NPCSC does not have the authority or power to return the relevant laws.
  4. Again unfortunately, Zhang did not mention the ambit of “the power to review the reported laws of the HKSAR”. If “the power to review the reported laws of the HKSAR” covers matters other than the affairs governed by the Central Government or the relationship between the Central Government and the HKSAR, there will be a clear breach of Article 17 of the Basic Law.

III. Laws are not political tools

  1. In a society which celebrates the “rule of law”, the law does not only regulate the social system, but also restricts the powers of the government and protects the rights of its people.
  2. As explicitly stated in the preamble of the Basic Law, the Basic Law shall be “prescribing the systems to be practised in the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region”. Chapter IV has also detailed and regulated the checks and balance of the powers among the executive, legislature and judiciary of the HKSAR. Article 4 and Chapter III of the Basic Law list out all the rights enjoyed by Hong Kong people.
  3. The “rule of law” does not equal to “rule by law”. On the contrary, one of the important indications of “rule of law” is whether the government is also bound by the law. Article 35 of the Basic Law safeguards Hong Kong peoples’ rights to commence legal proceedings in the courts against the power of the executive authorities, which means the people may initiate judicial review against the decisions or policies of the executive authorities. This is a significant part in the chain of manifesting the “rule of law”.
  4. In their speeches, Zhang and Rao suggested using “strong legal arms” to resolve all sorts of issues, and “institutionalising and normalising” the interpretation of the Basic Law to become a “sharp legal weapon”. Such thought is essentially an example of “rule by law”, turning the law into a tool of settling political needs. This is not the spirit of the “rule of law” by which Hong Kong has long been dependent on to achieve success.
  5. The spirit of the “rule of law” is one of the most important cornerstones for Hong Kong’s success all this time. Should the “rule of law” be affected by politics, the prosperity of Hong Kong would definitely be swayed.
  6. PLG believes that the speeches of Zhang and Rao cast doubts on whether the fundamental policies of the PRC, namely “One Country, Two Systems”, “Hong Kong people administering Hong Kong”, and “high degree of autonomy”, as stipulated by the Sino-British Joint Declaration and the Basic Law, still remain unchanged.
  7. PLG hopes that apart from Hong Kong people, all departments of the Central Government must also learn the Basic Law as said by Zhang, and not to distort or even violate the Basic Law.

Progressive Lawyers Group

30 June 2017

 

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

全國人大委員長張德江及基本法委員會中方委員饒戈平,最近先後就《基本法》實施20周年分別發表重要講話。法政匯思對部份發言內容深感不安,認為這些內容和《基本法》所規定的「一國兩制」存在矛盾。概略說明以下相關重點:

一、《基本法》規定「港人治港」

  1. 如《基本法》序言所述,中英兩國政府簽署了《聯合聲明》,確認中國政府於恢復對香港行使主權後,按照「一國兩制」的國家基本方針政策,設立香港特別行政區。《中英聯合聲明》附件一載明中國政府對香港的基本方針政策的具體說明,包括「除外交和國防事務屬中央人民政府管理外」,香港特區「享有高度的自治權」,「行政管理權、立法權、獨立的司法權和終審權」,香港特區政府和立法機關「由當地人組成」。
  2. 全國人大因而通過《基本法》,規定香港實行的制度,闡明上述「港人治港」的基本方針政策。《基本法》的不同條文,更詳細規範此等基本方針,包括特區的行政、立法與司法權,行政機關和立法機關由香港人組成,及行政長官必須為香港人,由港人透過選舉產生,才再由中央任命等等。
  3. 張德江亦在講話中確認「港人治港」、「高度自治」的國家基本方針始終不變。
  4. 《基本法》確立「港人治港」的其中一條最重要的條文為第二十二條,即「中央人民政府所屬各部門、各省、自治區、直轄市均不得干預香港特別行政區根據本法自行管理的事務。」中國的憲法規定,全國人大擁有國家一切權力,即使行政機關也是由全國人大產生,並須對其負責,受其監督。全國人大通過的《基本法》除了是香港的小憲法外,亦是全國性法律。因此即使「中央政府各部門」,亦必須遵守《基本法》,「均不得干預香港特別行政區根據本法自行管理的事務。
  5. 張德江和饒戈平在談話中,指出要制定和細化有關規定,落實「中央政府向行政長官發出指令」、指導工作。不幸地,張德江和饒戈平皆沒有指明有關指令的範疇。
  6. 若有關指令是圍繞「外交和國防事務」,屬中央政府負責的範疇,《基本法》第十三和十四條已指明,由外交部駐港機構和駐軍負責。
  7. 相反,若該等指令並不屬「外交和國防事務」,實屬本地事務,按《基本法》第十六條規定,由特區「自行處理」。法政匯思看不到任何基礎「中央政府部門」可以違反《基本法》第二十二條,制定規定向行政長官發出有關指令。

二、《基本法》規定特區享有「立法權」 

  1. 另外,張德江亦在談話中,提出要制定和細化有關規定,落實「對特別行政區法律備案審」。
  2. 《基本法》第十七條規定,香港特區享有立法權。香港的立法機關制定的法律須報全國人大常委會備案。但備案不影響該法律的生效。全國人大常委會在徵詢基本法委員會後,如認為香港立法機關制定的任何法律,不符合《基本法》關於中央管理的事務及中央和特區的關係的條款,可將有關法律發回,但不作修改。經全國人大常委會發回的法律立即失效。該法律的失效,除香港特區的法律另有規定外,無溯及力。
  3. 由此可見,全國人大常委會有權發回的香港法律,必須是違反《基本法》關於中央管理的事務及中央和特區的關係的條款。若有關法律不涉中央管理的事務,或中央和特區的關係,則全國人大常委會並無權發回。
  4. 再次不幸地,張德江沒有在談話中,指明對特區法律「備案審」的有關範疇。若對特區法律「備案審」的有關範疇,不涉中央管理的事務,或中央和特區的關係,則有關規定明顯違反《基本法》第十七條。

三、法律並非政治工具 

  1. 在一個「法治」社會內,法律除了規範社會的制度外,亦限制政府的權力,更保障市民的權利。
  2. 《基本法》的序言已指明,《基本法》「規定香港特別行政區實行的制度」。《基本法》第四章亦詳細規範了特區的行政、立法與司法機關的權力及互相的制衡。《基本法》第四條及第三章詳細列明了市民所獲保障的權利。
  3. 「法治」並不等同「以法治國」。相反,「法治」的其中一個重要指標,正正是政府是否受法律規範。《基本法》第三十五條,保障市民可以起訴行政部門的權力,亦即市民可以司法覆核行政部門決定或政策的權力,便是體現「法治」的重要一環。
  4. 張德江和饒戈平在談話中,指出以「強大的法律武器」解決各種問題,甚至令釋法「制度化、常態化」成為「法律利器」。此想法實是「以法治國」,將法律作為解決政治需要的工具,而非香港社會一直賴以成功的「法治」精神。
  5. 香港一直以來的成功,其中一塊最重要的基石,正是其「法治」精神。若「法治」的精神受政治的影響,香港的繁榮穩定亦肯定會受動搖。
  6. 法政匯思認為張德江和饒戈平的談話,實在令人懷疑《中英聯合聲明》及《基本法》所訂明的「一國兩制」、「港人治港」、「高度自治」的國家基本方針是否有變。
  7. 法政匯思希望除了香港市民外,中央政府各部門亦必須如張德江所說,認真學習《基本法》,而非歪曲甚至違反《基本法》。

法政匯思

2017630

 

《2017 年水務設施(修訂)條例草案》 意見書

法政匯思

《2017 年水務設施(修訂)條例草案》

意見書

  1. 法政匯思從食水安全的角度出發,審視發展局於 2017 年 3 月 29 日就《水務設施條例》提出的修訂。
  2. 在綜觀有關的修訂後,法政匯思認為是次發展局所提出的修訂,實為非常倉促,沒有經過詳細考慮,更沒有從食水安全和市民健康的角度出發。
  3. 法政匯思對於香港的食水安全問題,仍然感到非常憂心。

法例對「指定人士」的要求低

  1. 首先,修訂條例的第 15 條禁止非指定人士進行指明水管工程,亦即是,只要是條例中所列明的「指定人士」,便可進行指明水管工程。
  2. 發展局在提出這一條的修訂時,是從現時業界的作業模式出發,把現時的作業模式賦予法律地位、基礎和許可。發展局並不是從食水安全的角度出發。這做法實為本末倒置。
  3. 法政匯思認為「指定人士」的定義中,發展局提出的(d)項,尤其令人擔心。簡單來說,(d)項讓任何人士在持牌水喉匠或註冊水喉技工的指示及督導下,進行指明水管工程。該名人士並不需要接受任何專業訓練、不需要修讀任何課程、不需要考取任何牌照。
  4. 修訂條例對「指定人士」的要求這麼低,實在讓人憂慮,制度是否實在能夠確保指明水管工程的質素和食水的安全呢?

對水管工程的喉管及裝置規管不足

  1. 另外,雖然「指明水管工程」包含消防供水系統或內部供水系統(統稱為「水管系統」 )的建造、安裝、保養、更改、修理和拆除工作,但是條例中第 14(3)條所規管的只有水管系統的建造和安裝
  2. 法政匯思促請發展局認真考慮將另外四種的水管工程,即保養、更改、修理和拆除水管系統的工作,均納入第 14(3)條的規範內,以確保所有水管工程中所用到喉管及裝置的性質、大小及品質均會與所訂明的規格相同。
  3. 否則,未來有可能出現的情況是:在建造和安裝的過程中,雖然安裝的喉管及裝置與所訂明的規格相同,但在修理、保養或更改時,可能會換上一些與所訂明的規格不相同的喉管或裝置。試問在這樣的情況下,政府怎可以全面和持續地確保食水的安全?

控罪欠阻嚇性

  1. 另外,法政匯思認為新加的控罪仍有不足。首先,新加的控罪並不規管承建商。
  2. 此外,有關控罪的罰則並不足夠。修訂條例沿用現行條例內的第 4 級罰款為罰則,即罰款 HK$25,000,此金額對比整體工程來說實在微不足道,欠缺阻嚇性。
  3. 法政匯思希望發展局可以從考慮加強刑罰,將最高刑罰訂為監禁。至少,法庭對於屢次觸犯有關條例的人士,可以有空間考慮判處更高的刑罰。

法例沒有提供「性質輕微」的定義

  1. 另外,條例中的第 14(2)條和 15(2)條分別為「性質輕微」的更改和更改或修理工作提供一個豁免。但是,法例裡並沒有提供「性質輕微」的定義。在此情況下,「性質輕微」的定義不清晰,而水務監督亦有空間在不同時候、不同工程裡採用不同定義,什至可以隨時更改定義,該犯規的人士逃之夭夭。
  2. 因此,法政匯思促請發展局在條例裡加入「性質輕微」的定義,防止水務監督濫權,確保食水安全。

結論

  1. 綜觀以上各點,法政匯思認為發展局是次所提出的修訂,實為不足,並未能達致確保食水安全的目標。
  2. 法政匯思希望指出,是次《水務設施條例》的修訂(i)沒有任何有關食水安全的字眼;(ii)沒有提供任何關於食水水質的標準;(iii)沒有制定任何有關驗水以確保水質達標的要求;及(iv)沒有成立任何獨立機制去監察水質。
  3. 法政匯思促請政府儘快立食水安全法,並制定相關措施去確保食水安全,保障市民健康。

法政匯思

2017 年 6 月 12 日

法政匯思就近日就法院判決對司法機構的抨擊之聲明 (Statement of the Progressive Lawyers Group in relation to recent attacks on the judiciary following a recent court ruling)

1. 區域法院近日就七名警員襲擊佔中示威者的控罪作出判決及判刑之後,該案件的主審法官及整體司法機構均遭受一連串不合理的抨擊。 除了法官被蔑稱為「狗官」之外,亦有惡意批評暗示該案之主審法官及司法機構因政治立場而偏頗判案。

2. 過去兩年,法官受到類似毫無根據的攻擊已屢見不鮮。特別令人困擾的是,過往的攻擊只是來自邊緣組織內一些較為激進的人士,但最近的攻擊則是由一些社會知名人士牽頭,包括曾獲香港政府頒授榮譽勳章的著名戲劇導演、警察工會主席、甚至是現任立法會議員。

3. 在自由社會,市民有批評法官或法院判決的一般權利,但如市民在發表此等評論時蓄意或妄顧後果地達至以下目的: (1) 使法院或法官受到藐視或損害其威信;或(2)干擾司法工作,並構成干預司法公正或程序的妥善運作的實際風險,此等言論將會構成藐視法庭的罪行。

4. 法政匯思早前曾於2015年3月31日及2016年2月24日發表聲明,就意圖破壞公眾對司法制度的信心(及有可能構成藐視法庭)的惡意言論發聲。更重要的是,律政司司長在過去兩年和近日屢次呼籲大眾克制,避免發表類似的惡意言論。律政司司長並聲稱會訴諸法律行動(儘管尚未付諸實行)。至今,律政司司長的呼籲仍被視作耳邊風,而那些作惡者肆無忌憚的攻擊(我們認為該等攻擊已構成對司法機構的刑事藐視),更越趨氾濫。有人甚至公然提出,將付酬勞予毆打七名警員襲擊佔中示威者案件主審法官的人士。

5. 根據基本法第62條,律政司被賦予獨立刑事檢控的權力,且不受外界干預。法政匯思無意干預律政司獨立行使刑事檢控權。然而,律政司司長具有普通法下「司法機構的捍衛者」這個獨特地位。當其屢次要求公眾克制有關言論的呼籲被無視甚至藐視時,令人不禁質疑,僅僅在口頭上要求公眾評論法官以至司法機構時需保持合理克制,是否還足以守護公眾對司法機構的信心。

6. 我們相信律政司司長將採取一切在其權力範圍之內的必須行動,以確保司法機構及人員在行使其功能與職責時能免受藐視性攻擊。

1. Following the District Court’s verdict and sentencing in relation to seven police officers’ assault upon an Occupy Central demonstrator, the judge in question and the judiciary in general have been subject to a barrage of unwarranted attacks. Aside from the more vitriolic terms such as calling judges “dogs”, there were sinister suggestions that the judge in this case and the judiciary are politically biased in their exercise of judicial power.

2. Judges have been subjected to such unwarranted attacks in the past two years, so to that extent the latest attacks are nothing new. On those past occasions, such attacks came only from cranks from various fringe groups. What makes the latest attacks particularly disturbing is that they have been led by societal leaders such as a famous drama producer who was a past recipient of the Hong Kong Government’s Medal of Honour, a Police union leader, and even a current sitting Legislative Council member.

3. Whilst, in a free society, one has the right generally to criticise judges and the Court, a comment or series of comments is an actionable contempt if such was calculated (either by actual or reckless intent) to (1) bring a Court or judge into contempt or lower their authority or (2) interfere with the administration of justice; and there is a “real risk” that the due administration of justice would be interfered with.

4. The Progressive Lawyers Group had spoken out against vicious statements seeking to undermine the public’s confidence in the judicial system (and thus potentially constituting contempt of Court) by way of statements dated 31 March 2015 and 24 February 2016. More importantly, the Secretary for Justice had repeatedly urged restraint during the past two years and in recent days against such comments, and threatening legal action while not having actually done so. Thus far, the Secretary for Justice’s pleas have fallen on deaf ears, and the perpetrators of such outrageous and, in our view, criminally contemptuous attacks on the judiciary are now becoming increasingly mainstream. There has even been monetary reward publicly offered for anyone who assaults the judge presiding over the case involving seven police officers’ assault upon an Occupy Central demonstrator.

5. Under Article 62 of the Basic Law, the Department of Justice is empowered to exercise its powers of criminal prosecution independently and without interference. The Progressive Lawyers Group does not seek to interfere with such independence. Nonetheless, in circumstances where the Secretary for Justice has a special role at common law as the defender of the judiciary, and his past calls for restraint have not only been ignored but becoming ever more openly flouted, one does wonder whether mere verbal urgings for moderation when commenting on judges and the judiciary are any longer sufficient to safeguard public confidence in the judiciary.

6. We trust the Secretary for Justice will take all necessary actions within his powers to ensure that the judiciary can exercise its judicial function free from any contemptuous attacks.

短評:關於青年新政及香港民族黨年宵攤位被取消一事 (Short Commentary in relation to the Termination of the Stalls of Youngspiration and the Hong Kong National Party in the Lunar New Year Fair)

(Please scroll down for English version)

青年新政及香港民族黨於2017 年 1 月17 日及 18日,分別接獲食物環境衛生署(下稱「署方」)書面通知其維多利亞公園年宵攤位的特許協議已被署方單方面終止(下稱「通知」)。如果署方沒有確實的證據,證明於年宵攤位售賣或擺放的貨品/物品,以及進行的活動有可能危及公共秩序及安全;或證明持相反意見者,確實會作出危及公共秩序及安全的行為,署方的決定難免引起公眾質疑,並視之為政治打壓,實屬不智。

通知中指出,署方是根據該特許協議第10 條終止該特許協議,即署方有權在任何情況就整段/部份年宵期提早終止該特許協議。署方於通知中提及:

● 署方相信該兩個組織於其年宵攤位內將會售賣或擺放的貨品/物品,以及相關活動,與宣揚「港獨」的訊息有關;及

● 因參與年宵人士可能包括支持及反對「港獨」,在年宵內售賣或擺放與「港獨」有關的貨品/物品,以及進行相關活動很大機會危及公共秩序及安全。

署方以保障公眾利益為由,終止與該兩個組織就年宵攤位簽訂的特許協議。

其後,青年新政於2017 年 1 月19 日在其 Facebook 專頁上載一段與署方職員郭先生的電話錄音。署方郭先生在電話錄音中承認青年新政的年宵攤位並未搭建,「現階段暫時」估計他們將於其年宵攤位內售賣或擺放的貨品/物品與宣揚「港獨」的訊息有關。

法政匯思留意到:

● 該特許協議賦予食環署權利在任何情況就整段/部份年宵期提早終止該特許協議;及

● 署方在是次商業性質的年宵活動中行使了公權力,以保障公眾利益為由終止特許協議。

署方在行使其公權力時,須根據基本法下第二十七條保障香港市民言論、出版及結社的自由及履行第一百一十五條中香港特別行政區的責任,實行自由貿易政策,保障貨物、無形財產和資本的流動自由。

任何行政機關在行使其公權力並作出決定時,必須秉持公平及公正等法律原則。署方在作出相關的決定前,應先與有關人士協商解決方案、讓有關人士作出辯解及考慮採取其他措施保障市民安全。在作出任何決定後,署方亦應盡快公開相關資料,令有關人士及公眾明白其決定的理據。

每年出席年宵的市民或團體眾多,其中持有不同政見的實屬平常。單憑有不同意見人士出席或進行活動,而揣測任何攤位或活動會危及公共秩序及安全,實難以令公眾信服。如署方真的因為任何組織或團體的政見而終止其特許協議,實在是開了一個極壞的先例。

法政匯思

(原文載與2017年1月24日《立場新聞》)

The Progressive Lawyers Group’s Short Commentary in relation to the Termination of the Stalls of Youngspiration and the Hong Kong National Party in the Lunar New Year Fair

On 17 and 18 January 2017 respectively, Youngspiration and the Hong Kong National Party received a written notice (“the Notice”) from the Food and Environmental Hygiene Department (“the Department”), stating that it had terminated their franchise agreements for operating stalls at the Lunar New Year Fair in Victoria Park, Causeway Bay. If the Department does not have solid evidence to prove that the goods and articles placed or under sale at the stalls and the activities to be carried out at the stalls are likely to endanger the public order and safety, or prove that the dissidents will indeed endanger the public order and safety, this decision of the Department will be questioned by the public and be regarded as political oppression. The Department’s decision is therefore unwise.

In the Notice, the Department relied on Clause 10 of the Franchise Agreement, namely that the Department has the right to early terminate the Franchise Agreement for the whole / the part of the period of the Lunar New Year Fair. In the Notice, the Department stated that:

– The Department believed that the two organisations are going to sell or place goods / articles in their respective stalls in the Lunar New Year Fair, and carry out related activities, promoting “the Independence of Hong Kong” or the like; and

– Since the participants of the Lunar New Year Fair may include those who support or oppose “Hong Kong independence”, selling or placing goods / articles relating to “Hong Kong independence ” or carrying out related activities in the Fair would very likely endanger public order and safety.

In asserting that it is protecting public interest, the Department terminated the Franchise Agreement with the two organisations for the Lunar New Year Fair.

Subsequently, Youngspiration uploaded an audio recording clip of a conversation with a staff member of the Department, Mr Kwok, on its Facebook Page on 9 January 2017. Mr Kwok in this telephone recording admitted that the stall of Youngspiration in the Lunar New Year Fair has not yet been erected. “At this stage”, the guess was that that they would sell or place goods / articles relating to the promotion of “Hong Kong independence”.

The Progressive Lawyers Group notes that:

– The Franchise Agreement empowers the Department at any time to terminate the Agreement in any event in respect of the whole / the part of the period of the Lunar New Year Fair.

– In terminating the Agreement, the Department exercised public power in this Lunar New Year Fair (which is of commercial nature), claiming that it was to protect the public interest.

In exercising its public power, the Department should, pursuant to Article 27 of the Basic Law, protect the freedom of speech, publication and association of Hong Kong residents, and to fulfill its responsibility as set out in Article 115 to pursue the policy of free trade and safeguard the free movement of goods, intangible assets and capital.

Any administrative bureau, in the exercise of its public power and decision making, must uphold the principles of fairness and justice. The Department, when reaching the relevant decision, should have firstly consulted the relevant stakeholders for a resolution, allowing the stakeholders to defend and to consider other ways to protect the safety of the public. After reaching any decisions, the Department should have also disclosed relevant information as soon as possible so that stakeholders and the public would understand the rationale of its decision.

Each year, there are a lot of citizens and organisations participating in the Lunar New Year Fair. It is normal to see different political views amongst them. It is difficult to convince the public that any stall or activity would endanger the public order or safety solely based on the attendance or activities of some dissidents. It is a terrible precedent if the Department terminates the Franchise Agreement for any particular political views of any party or organisation.

Progressive Lawyers Group

Article was originally published in Stand News on 24 January 2017

原題為〈法政匯思短評:關於青年新政及香港民族黨年宵攤位被取消一事〉

法政匯思意見書:強烈譴責人大釋法 為政治目的濫用解釋權 (Submissions in relation to the Interpretation by the Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress on 7 November 2016)

法政匯思就 2016 年 11 月 7 日人大常委會釋法的意見書

1. 2016 年 11 月 7 日,全國人民代表大會常務委員會(「人大常委會」) ,聲稱行使《基本法》第 158 條賦予的權力,就《基本法》第 104 條釋法 (「該釋法」)。

2. 這是人大常委會第五次解釋《基本法》。總括而言(下面會進一步解釋),法政匯思對該釋法的意見如下:

(1) 人大常委會確實擁有不受約制的權力解釋《基本法》,但是它沒有權力(i) 解釋香港本地法例;或 (ii) 修改《基本法》或香港本地法例。

(2) 該釋法已遠遠超越了對《基本法》的解釋,並意圖規定一些屬於香港本地法例範圍以內而非《基本法》的事項。就法律原則而言,我們認為該釋法中這些超越對《基本法》解釋的部分不具法律約束力 。不幸的是,在政治現實中,人大常委會無須為其越權行為負責。

(3) 該釋法在兩方面嚴重破壞了法治及香港的自治:(i) 它實際上為香港 進行本地立法;和 (ii) 它是在香港法院涉及同一事項的案件的裁決前作出。該釋法成為令人非常不安的先例,並預示著一國兩制的未來 危危可岌。

《基本法》第 158 條之法理及過往之使用

3. 根據香港終審法院(「終審法院))之裁定,人大常委會根據《中華人民共和國憲法》第 67(4) 條及《基本法》第 158(1) 條擁有不受約制和一 般性解釋《基本法》的權力: 劉港榕訴入境事務處處長 (1999) 2 HKCFAR 300。

4. 但是,《基本法》同時訂明香港享有高度自治,並擁有獨立的司法權,其中包括終審權。《基本法》第 158(2)條授權香港法院在審理案件時對關於香港特別行政區自治範圍內的《基本法》條款自行解釋。

5. 《基本法》第 158(3) 條清楚訂明,只要解釋的條款不是關於中央人民政 府管理的事務或中央和香港特別行政區關係(即「排除條款」),則香港法院有權自行解釋該些條款。

6. 需要留意的是,人大常委會釋法的權力僅涵蓋《基本法》本身。該權力並不引伸至解釋香港本地的法例。此限制於《基本法》第 158(1) 條清楚可見:「本法的解釋權屬於全國人民代表大會常務委員會。」

7. 因此,就人大常委會超越對《基本法》條文進行釋法的範圍的部分,均屬於第 158 條的框架之外。基本法委員會委員陳弘毅教授曾指出,在該情況下,(即使人大常委會聲稱其解釋不論是因明示條款或必然含意適用於香 港),香港法庭可以合法地聲稱該解釋於香港是沒有法律效力的。1

8. 歷史上,人大常委會曾經四度釋法:

(1) 1999 年 6 月,人大常委會就《基本法》第 22 條(4)及第 24 條(2)及 (3) 釋法,推翻終審法院就吳嘉玲訴入境處處長(1999) 2 HKCFAR 4 一案的判決。2 該次釋法於終審法院判政府敗訴後,應行政長官要求而作出。

(2) 2004 年 4 月,人大常委會就《基本法》附件一第 7 條及附件二第 3 條釋法,3 本質上為政改程序附加兩個步驟。該次釋法由人大常委會主動提出。

(3) 2005 年 4 月,人大常委會就《基本法》第 53 條(2) 作出第三次釋法。該釋法是應行政長官要求作出,以處理因行政長官提早離任而需 選出繼任的新行政長官的任期。4

(4) 2011 年 8 月,人大常委會應終審法院的要求就《基本法》第 13 條 (1) 及第 19 條作出解釋。該釋法於終審法院在剛果民主共和國訴 FG Hemisphere Associates LLC (2011) 14 HKCFAR 95 一案作出臨時判決後作出。5

9. 以上的人大常委會釋法,尤其是於 1999、2004 及 2005 年的釋法,對香港司法獨立及法治造成極大的損害。每次釋法都為香港社會帶來極大爭議及廣泛的憂慮。

10. 香港大律師公會及香港律師會過去曾再三地警告解釋權不能被肆意及無限 制的使用,因為此舉將會削弱司法機關的權威性地位及損害香港的法治 :

(1) 2000 年 1 月,大律師公會主席曾批評政府拒絕確認一旦政府於「燒 國旗」案敗訴,將不會提請人大常委會釋法:6

「政府拒絕確認的效果 … 就是任何終審法院對《基本法》的 詮釋,一旦不被特區政府認同的話,便將一直受到政府會向人大常委會尋求釋法的威脅 … 這會成為懸在終審法院頭上的一 把刀。社會對我們司法制度的信心及司法獨立必然會受損害。 」 7

(2) 就 2005 年 4 月的釋法(參見以上第 8(3) 段),大律師公會強烈反對政府在沒有任何香港法院判決的情況下要求人大常委會釋法:

原則,更是不尊重法治,令致香港居民以至國際社會的有識人士感到憂慮。」8

(3) 就 2005 年 4 月的釋法,律師會亦表達以下意見:

「《基本法》內容清晰,並無釋法需要。即使有疑問亦最好交由香港法院解決。即使有需要釋法,亦應小心及克制地進行, 因為法治的基本原則,例如正當的程序、透明度及由獨立司法 機關作出的合理的判決,乃維持法治必要的因素。」9

(4) 於 2012 年 5 月,大律師公會曾表示政府要求人大常委員釋法只能是萬不得已最後的手段。10

(5) 律師會亦曾在其 2012 年 10 月 10 日的新聞稿表示:

「… 香港的司法獨立已被清楚確立,而香港法官的質素、品格及威望,一直都受到尊重。基於社會曾經對由人大常委會對 《基本法》的解釋對司法獨立及法治的影響,而法治亦是香港的核心價值之一,香港律師會認為,政府在考慮是否就《基本 法》的條文作出解釋時,應該謹慎行事。」11

11. 前終審法院首席法官李國能亦曾強調人大常委會雖然有廣泛的解釋權,但是應非常小心及克制地使用此權力:

「… 人大常委會只應在非常特殊的情況下,才行使其解釋權。…人大常委會不應行使釋法權力以推翻香港法院的判決,特別是終審法 院的判決。儘管這樣的釋法仍是合法和對香港有約束力,但卻會對香港的司法獨立造成負面的影響。」12

該釋法的內容是什麼?它有什麼法律後果? 

12. 該釋法是由立法會議員的宣誓事件引起。其所針對的《基本法》第 104 條 的相關部分如下:「香港特別行政區…立法會議員…在就職時必須依法宣誓擁護中華 人民共和國香港特別行政區基本法,效忠中華人民共和國香港特別行政區。」

13. 該釋法之中文全文是公開文件。13 我們撰寫此意見書時,英文譯本尚未發布,故英文版本意見書內的分析,乃基於我們就該釋法的非官方翻譯。

14. 該釋法是「不受約制」的,即是它由人大常委會主動提出,而非由香港特別行政區首長或香港法院的提請下而作出的。

15. 遺憾地,該釋法不只「解釋」第 104 條的意義,而是為香港的本地法例加入了新的法律要求,尤其是該釋法等於在《宣誓及聲明條例》(香港法例 第 11 章)加入新的內容。此舉與《基本法》第 17 條相違背,即香港特別行政區享有立法權。該釋法違反了一國兩制的基本原則—即香港法例應 由香港而非內地訂立。

16. 又或,由於該釋法在第 104 條加入新的內容,所以等同修改《基本法》, 然而人大常委會繞過了《基本法》第 159 條所訂明的所有修訂程序。

17. 我們對該釋法的內容的意見如下:

(1) 該釋法的第 2(2)段:它說明宣誓人根據《基本法》第 104 條,除了其他事項,必須宣讀包括「擁護中華人民共和國香港特別行政區基 本法,效忠中華人民共和國香港特別行政區」內容的法定誓言。而該宣誓人必須「真誠」、「莊重」地進行宣誓,必須「準確」、「 完整」、「莊重」地宣讀誓言。

(a) 這清楚證明該釋法遠遠超越了解釋《基本法》,並且嘗試加入新法律要求。《基本法》第 104 條只是要求宣誓須「依法」。 「依法」的意思在梁國雄訴立法會秘書處(HCAL112/2004, 2004 年 10 月 6 日)的判決第 22 至 23 段提到:

「『依法』一詞具有明確的含義。這意味著立法會議員必須根據符合香港法律的方法和形式作出宣誓…香港法律包括香港本 地的法律,而這包括了香港的法例。規管立法會議員以及其他 高級官員宣誓的有關法例為《宣誓及聲明條例》,(香港法例 第 11 章)。」 

(b) 正如梁國雄案確定,香港法例本身已有涵蓋《基本法》第 104 條的要求,即《宣誓及聲明條例》。如該釋法是希望解釋有關宣誓的特定要求,那麼該釋法其實是解釋了《宣誓及聲明條例 》,而不是《基本法》。這基本上是等如在《宣誓及聲明條例 》之上,不經立法會,制定新的香港法律。

(2) 該釋法的第 2(3) 段:它說明如宣誓人拒絕宣誓,即喪失就任該條所列相應公職的資格。另,如宣誓人「故意」宣讀與法定誓言不一致的誓言或者以任何「不真誠」、「不莊重」的方式宣誓,也屬於拒 絕宣誓,所作宣誓無效。

(a) 這是另一個清楚的例子說明該釋法是一個超越《基本法》的解釋。在《基本法》104 條中根本沒有明示或暗示這些結論。

(b) 事實上,該釋法的第 2(3) 段解釋了《宣誓及聲名條例》中第 21 條「拒絕或忽略作出該項誓言…」。我們必須再次強調人大 常委會的權力並不包括解釋香港本地法例。這解釋權是香港法 院獨有的權利。

(3) 該釋法第 2(4) 段:該段說明,除了其他事項,宣誓必須在監誓人( 以下簡稱「監誓人」)面前進行。對不符合該釋法和香港特別行政區法律規定的宣誓,應確定為無效宣誓,並不得重新安排宣誓。

(a) 但是《基本法》第 104 條,《宣誓及聲名條例》或《香港立法會議事規則》內並沒有訂明不可以再宣誓。我們亦留意到,《 宣誓及聲名條例》第 19 條只訂明「立法會議員須於其仼期開始後盡快作出立法會誓言」。這並沒有說明宣誓應在何時或如 何完成,而亦沒有說明不能再宣誓。

(b) 因此,該釋法的這部份構成了對香港本地法例(而非《基本法》)的解釋或修改。

(4) 該釋法的第 3 段:該段訂明若宣誓人作虛假宣誓,或者在宣誓之後 作出「違反」誓言「行為」的法律責任(宣誓人必須真誠信奉並嚴格遵守法定誓言。宣誓人作虛假宣誓或者在宣誓之後從事違反誓 行為的,依法承擔法律責任):

(a) 但是,誰才可以決定宣誓人是否「真誠信奉」誓言呢?到底「在宣誓之後從事違反誓言行為」是否意味思想表達亦可能成為「違反誓言」?「違反誓言」是什麼意思?什麼人可以決定有 違反的行為?這些問題都沒有清楚的答案。再者,「法律責任 」的意思也不清楚,而且第 3 段「依法」內所指的法律也不清 晰。

(b) 無論如何,以上事項均不是《基本法》第 104 條所涵蓋的範圍 ,第 104 條只處理(在目前情況下)立法會議員就職前須宣誓 的前提。到底任何人士有否違反誓言是香港法律的問題,卻不合法地被包括在該釋法中。

18. 另一個引申的問題是有關該釋法是否具追溯效力(即適用於該釋法前的事件)。該的釋法並沒有提及它是否具追溯效力。可是,我們關注到有關的追溯效力可能已經隱含在是次的釋法中。在劉港榕訴入境事務處處長 (1999) 2 HKCFAR 300 一案中,判詞的第 72 段提到:

「是次的釋法,是對有關法例的解釋,可追溯至 1997 年 7 月 1 日當 《基本法》正式生效之時。有關的釋法宣布了有關的法律一直本該是如何。比較普通法中的司法決定宣告理論,詳見 Kleinwort Benson Ltd v Lincoln City Council [1998] 3 WLR 1095 at 1117 – 1119 and 1148. 」

19. 最後,我們注意到該釋法是連同一套所謂「說明」發佈的。14 該說明不是該釋法的一部分,亦無任何第 158 條賦予的法律地位。我們認為,該說明 只會令事情更加混亂及突顯人大常委會有關行為的政治動機。

該釋法削弱司法獨立以及香港的自治

20. 無可否認,該釋法對於香港曾獲保證享有及其多年來賴以繁榮的基石 — 高度自治和司法獨立 — 構成了嚴重打擊。

21. 該釋法難以有任何法理依據,尤其是因為:

(1) 有關的事項是可以由香港法院引用香港法律而獨自解決的。《基本法》第 104 條並不是涉及中央和香港關係的「排除條款」。有關宣誓的問題屬《宣誓及聲明條例》管轄的事項。

(2) 假如有議員違反誓言,立法會主席可按照《基本法》第 79(7)條賦予的權力,經立法會出席會議的議員三分之二通過後宣告該議員喪失立法會議員的資格。因此,《基本法》對相關事項早已有所規定。

(3) 《基本法》第 104 條的⫿眼容許「依法」宣誓,即是允許立法機關就宣誓所需的方法和形式作出定義。這說明香港在這一方面被予以 高度的自主權。

(4) 廣為人知的是,這次釋法的事項已是一項司法覆核申請的主要爭議,而原訟法庭已於 2016 年 11 月 3 日審理此案。尤其是在該司法覆核申請中政府尋求的濟助的第一項為: 「聲明立法會主席並無權力重新監誓或容許重新宣誓。」這次人大常委會就正在進行中的法律訴訟的主題在案件等候判決期間作出的釋法行為,篡奪了法官根據香港法律自行審理案件的自主權,是對香港的司法獨立的嚴重的打擊。

22. 該釋法是前所未有的,與過往的四次釋法不同,因為:

(1) 它不是經終審法院或行政長官要求下作出的;

(2) 它是於香港法院就有關事宜聆訊以後,但在作出判決前發出的;

(3) 它是就「非排除條款」作出的解釋;

(4) 它的實際效果為解釋、修改及/或重寫本地法律,尤其是《宣誓及聲明條例》; 和

(5) 它的實際效果為在沒有經過規定程序的情況下修改《基本法》。

23. 2016 年 11 月 2 日,香港大律師公會就(當時預期會發生的)釋法發出聲 明指出:

「…[釋法] 將對香港特別行政區的獨立司法權和終審權帶來極大的衝 擊,亦會嚴重削弱港人以至國際間對「一國兩制、港人治港、高度 自治」的信心,實為百害而無一利。」15

24. 2016 年 11 月 7 日該釋法公佈後,香港大律師公會發出的聲明同樣地指出 :

「本會認為全國人大常委會在這極敏感時刻作出上述決定是極之不幸,難免削弱香港在國際間司法獨立的形象,動搖公眾對香港法治 的信心。」16

25. 法政匯思完全同意上述聲明(以及以往大律師公會以及律師會就人大常委會釋法權的聲明)。

26. 該釋法最令人震驚的地方就是,雖然它聲稱是針對第 104 條的解釋,但它實際上相當於解釋、修改或重寫《宣誓及聲明條例》,即一項香港本地法例,亦正正是令人高度深切關注該釋法的理由。如上所述,人大常委會沒有權力解釋本地法例;就任何固有的法律觀點而言,人大常委會作出任何 這種企圖都沒有法律效力。17 鑑於上文第 17 段所列的情況,嚴格按照法律而言,我們認為該釋法中那些超越《基本法》的解釋的釋義部分(幾乎是全部)是沒有法律效力, 且不具法律約束力。

27. 不幸的是,政治現實中是沒有什麼法律手段可以監察人大常委會。因此,如果人大常委會開始在某程度上以重寫本地法例的方式去「解釋」《基本法》的話,那這是人大常委會本質上為香港立法的模式的開始。 說這是結束香港單獨制度和自治的局面,也絕不誇張。

28. 最近幾天,某些評論者提出了為什麼應該支持釋法的論點。我們認為必須作出以下回應:

(1) 由於人大常委會有一般性權力解釋《基本法》第 158 條,只要行使這些權力,便不會損害香港的法治或自主權:

行使權力的權利和行使權力的後果是不同的事情。在目前的情況下,人大常委會行使該權力,已實際上繞過了待決的司法程序和可自 主行使的香港立法酌情權。 該釋法還意味著人大常委會比單純解釋 第 104 條更進一步地去繼續就宣誓及聲明的事項作出立法規定。 這構成試圖行使人大常委會實際上並不具有的權力,這是明顯藐視法 治。

(2) 該釋法最好在任何香港法院的判決之前進行,因為如果法院已有判 決,然後其與人大常委會相抵觸,這會更加不利:

無論該釋法是在香港法院對宣誓相關訴訟的裁決之前或之後進行,這仍會削弱香港法院的權威。 無論如何,該釋法在訴訟尚未裁決期間進行,會對法治和司法獨立造成更多的傷害。它所發放的訊息就是,在任何法律爭議中,有權力的人只願意接受一個結果(即有利於己的一個結果),而且即使爭議仍在審議爭論的過程中,法院也必須屈服。這就是不尊重法治的法律制度的特質。

(3) 釋法對於闡明第 104 條如何適用於香港法律方面,可能不是壞事:

這個說法令我們驚愕。香港法律能夠而且應該由香港法院澄清,亦應該由香港立法機關制定。 即使該釋法確實「澄清」了香港法律的 適用範圍,當這是人大常委會不惜犧牲我們的法律、司法制度和高 度自治權而粗暴地一意孤行,那就絶不可能不是壞事。

(4) 使用粗言穢語、種族歧視用語及/或宣揚香港獨立的政治人物不應在議會中佔一席位,而該釋法能處理這些人物是好事: 

法政匯思並不支持在正式的政治措辭中使用不當語言,而且我們承認《基本法》 列明香港是中國不可分離的部分。但《基本法》同時亦列明一些基本權利,例如被選舉權 (第 26 條) 及言論自由 (第 27 條)。法庭案例亦清楚指出該等基本權利必須給予最佳效果。18 該釋法侵蝕了我們司法制度這基本的宗旨。 即使部分公眾或認為個別政 客令人厭惡,如人大常委會對《基本法》作出所謂「解釋」乃是為 達到其政治目的,那麼《基本法》所保障的基本公民及商業權利將 會凶多吉少。

《基本法》第 104 條亦適用於行政長官、主要官員、行政會議成員、立 法會議員、各級法院法官和其他司法人員。 

29. 我們必須注意,第 104 條並不只適用於立法會議員,亦適用於行政長官、主要官員行政會議成員、各級法院法官和其他司法人員。法政匯思尤其關注該釋法對司法機構的影響,因這正潛在地影響司法機構日後的獨立 性。

30. 法政匯思關注到該釋法可能將為日後潛在的濫權打開方便之門。如按照該 釋法的說法,任何在香港建制架構內的高層人員,以及各級法官,都可以被取消資格—或更廣義地 — 被「免掉」職務。

總結

31. 法政匯思對人大常委會該釋法表示極度遺憾,並對其舉措予以最強烈的譴責。我們無法接受其這次為達到政治目的而公然地濫用第158 條 。人大常委會毫無節制地行使其解釋權,將引起各方深切關注香港獲保證的高度自治、司法獨立,甚至法治,是否已蕩然無存。當這些香港賴以維持穩定及繁榮的基本宗旨遭受破壞,將對本地及國際的商業活動,以及投資者 對香港作為國際金融及商業中心的信心,帶來難以避免的負面影響。

 

The Progressive Lawyers Group’s Submissions in relation to the Interpretation by the Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress on 7 November 2016 

1. On 7 November 2016, the Standing Committee of the National Peoples Congress (“NPCSC”), in purported exercise of its powers under Article 158 of the Basic Law, issued an interpretation in relation to Article 104 of the Basic Law (“the Interpretation”).

2. This is the fifth time the NPCSC has interpreted the Basic Law. In summary, and as further explained below, the Progressive Lawyers Group’s submissions on the Interpretation are:

(1) The NPCSC does have a freestanding power to interpret the Basic Law. But it does not have the power to: (i) interpret Hong Kong domestic law; or (ii) amend either the Basic Law or Hong Kong domestic law.

(2) The Interpretation has gone well beyond an interpretation of the Basic Law. It has sought instead to prescribe matters which are not in the Basic Law and which are within the remit of Hong Kong domestic law. As a matter of legal principle, we consider that such parts of the Interpretation are not legally binding. Unfortunately, as a matter of political reality, NPCSC cannot be held to account for its act of overreach.

(3) The Interpretation has deeply damaged the rule of law and Hong Kong’s autonomy by: (i) in effect making Hong Kong domestic law; and (ii) being issued while a Hong Kong court case covering the same subject matter was pending. It creates an enormously disturbing precedent and bodes ill for the future of One Country Two Systems.

The law on, and previous use of, Article 158 of the Basic Law

3. According to the Hong Kong Court of Final Appeal (“CFA”), the NPCSC has a freestanding and plenary power of interpretation of the Basic Law pursuant to Article 67(4) of the PRC Constitution and Article 158(1) of the Basic Law: Lau Kong Yung v Director of Immigration (1999) 2 HKCFAR 300.

4. However, the Basic Law also states that Hong Kong shall enjoy a high degree of autonomy and be vested with independent judicial power, including that of final adjudication. Article 158(2) confers power upon the Hong Kong courts to interpret on their own, in adjudicating cases, the provisions of the Basic Law which are within the limits of the autonomy of the Hong Kong SAR.

5. It is clear from Article 158(3) that as long as the article in question is not one concerning affairs which are the responsibility of the Central People’s Government or concerning the relationship between the Central Authorities and the Region (i.e. it is not an “excluded provision”), the Hong Kong courts have the power to interpret the provision on their own.

6. It is also important to note that the NPCSC’s power only covers interpreting provisions of the Basic Law itself. This power does not extend to interpretation of local Hong Kong statutes. This is absolutely clear from the wording of Article 158(1): “The power of interpretation of this Law shall be vested in the Standing Committee of the National Peoples Congress.” 

7. Thus, to the extent that any NPCSC interpretation contains text which goes beyond specifically interpreting a Basic Law provision, such parts of an NPCSC interpretation would fall outside the framework of Article 158. Professor Albert Chen, a Basic Law Committee member, has said that in such circumstances, “Hong Kong courts can legitimately claim that [such parts of an NPCSC Interpretation] have no legal force in Hong Kong (even if they purport to apply to Hong Kong by their express terms or by necessary implication)”.1

8. Historically, there have been four NPCSC interpretations:

(1) The interpretation issued by the NPCSC in June 1999 on Articles 22(4) and 24(2)(3) of the Basic Law, which effectively reversed the CFA’s judgment in Ng Ka Ling v Director of Immigration (1999) 2 HKCFAR 4.2 This interpretation was issued at the request of the Chief Executive (after the CFA had ruled against the Government).

(2) In April 2004, the NPCSC issued an interpretation on Article 7 of Annex I and Article III of Annex II of the Basic Law, in essence adding two extra steps to the procedure for electoral reform. 3 This interpretation was issued on the NPCSCs own initiative.

(3) In April 2005, the NPCSC issued a third interpretation, on Article 53(2) of the Basic Law. This was issued at the request of the Chief Executive, and dealt with the term of a new Chief Executive elected to replace an outgoing Chief Executive whose term ended prematurely.4

(4) In August 2011, the NPCSC issued an interpretation on Articles 13(1) and 19 of the Basic Law, pursuant to a request of the CFA. The interpretation was issued after the CFA handed down its provisional judgment in Democratic Republic of the Congo v FG Hemisphere Associates LLC (2011) 14 HKCFAR 95. 5
9. These previous interpretations issued by the NPCSC (or at least, those issued in 1999, 2004, and 2005) caused considerable damage to judicial autonomy and rule of law in Hong Kong. Each interpretation resulted in enormous controversy and widespread concern in Hong Kong society.

10. The Hong Kong Bar Association and the Law Society of Hong Kong have in the past repeatedly warned against the wanton and unrestrained use of the power of interpretation, because it would undermine the authoritative status of the judiciary and damage the rule of law in Hong Kong:

(1) In January 2000, the Bar Chairman criticised the Government for refusing to confirm that it would not seek an NPCSC interpretation if it lost in the “flag burning” case: 6

“The effect of such a refusal…was that there was a constant threat that any interpretation of the Basic Law by the CFA unacceptable to the SAR Government would result in another application to the NPCSC…this was and still is a Damocles sword to our CFA. Confidence in our legal system and the independence of our Judiciary is bound to suffer.”7

(2) In relation to the April 2005 interpretation (see paragraph 8(3) above), the Bar Association spoke out strongly against the Government’s request for an NPCSC interpretation even in the absence of any Hong Kong court ruling:

“Not only will such request by the executive negate the separation of powers which underpins the system laid down in the Basic Law, it shows scant respect to the rule of law and will understandably cause alarm to people in Hong Kong as well as to informed observers in the international community.”

(3) Also in relation to the April 2005 interpretation, the Law Society said that:

“The Basic Law is clear and an interpretation was not necessary and in case of doubt it would have been preferable for the matter to be resolved through the Hong Kong courts…interpretation, if used at all, must be used with caution and restraint, since fundamental principles of the rule of law such as due process, transparency, and reasoned judgments from an independent judiciary are essential elements in maintaining the rule of law.” 9

(4) In May 2012, the Bar Association said that the Government should request an interpretation from the NPCSC only: “…as the very last resort”.10 

(5) In a press statement dated 10 October 2012, the Law Society stated that:

“The independence of the judiciary in Hong Kong is deeply established, and the quality, integrity and credibility of our judges are well respected. Given the expressed concerns raised by the community over the effects of an interpretation of the Basic Law by the NPCSC on the independence of the judiciary and the rule of law as Hong Kong’s core values, the Law Society of Hong Kong believes the Government should act cautiously when considering whether to seek an interpretation of any provisions of the Basic Law.”11 

11. The former Chief Justice, Andrew Li, has also emphasised that the NPCSC’s power of interpretation, although certainly wide, should be exercised with a great deal of caution and restraint:

“…the Standing Committee’s power to interpret should only be exercised in the most exceptional circumstances…The Standing Committee should refrain from exercising its power to override a court judgment in Hong Kong, especially one of the Court of Final Appeal. Although it would be legally valid and binding, such an interpretation would have an adverse effect on judicial independence in Hong Kong.” 12 

What did the Interpretation say? What are its legal consequences? 

12. The Interpretation arose from the controversy over the manner of taking the Legislative Council oath. The relevant part of Article 104 of the Basic Law (“Article 104”) provides:

“When assuming office … members of the … Legislative Council … must, in accordance with law, swear to uphold the Basic Law of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region of the Hong Kong People’s Republic of China and swear allegiance to the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region of the People’s Republic of China.”

13. The full text of the Interpretation (in Chinese) has now been made public.13 (As of the time these submissions were prepared, there is no official English translation; the following analysis uses our own unofficial translation).

14. The Interpretation was “freestanding”, i.e. it was issued by the NPCSC on its own initiative and not in response to a request by the Chief Executive or the Hong Kong courts.

15. Regrettably, the Interpretation goes beyond an “interpretation” of Article 104. It amounts to introducing new legal requirements that are in fact the preserve of Hong Kong domestic law. In particular, it effectively adds new content to the Oaths and Declarations Ordinance (Cap. 11) (“OADO”). This is in conflict with Article 17 of the Basic Law, which states that the Hong Kong SAR shall be vested with legislative power. It violates a fundamental principle of One Country Two Systems that Hong Kong – not the Mainland – legislates for Hong Kong.

16. Alternatively, the Interpretation is effectively an amendment of the Basic Law – in particular, adding new content to Article 104 – but bypassing all the amendment procedures prescribed in Article 159.

17. Our commentary in relation to the specific content of the Interpretation is as follows:

(1) Paragraph 2(2) of the Interpretation: it states that a person who takes an oath required under Article 104 must, inter alia, take an oath which includes swearing to “uphold the Basic Law of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region and swear allegiance to the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region of the People’s Republic of China”, and the person must swear with “sincerity” (真誠), “solemnity” (莊重) and must utter those words “accurately” (準確), “completely” (完整) and with “solemnity” (莊重):

(a) This is a clear demonstration of the Interpretation going well beyond interpreting the Basic Law and seeking to introduce new legal requirements that are in fact the preserve of Hong Kong domestic law. Article 104 only requires that an oath is taken “in accordance with law”. The meaning of this phrase was considered in Leung Kwok Hung v Legislative Council Secretariat (HCAL 112/2004, 6 October 2004) at paras 22-23:

…the phrase ‘in accordance with law’ has a clear meaning. It means that a Legislative Councillor must take his oath in a manner and form that accords with the law of Hong Kong. … The law of Hong Kong includes its domestic law and this itself includes its statutory law. The relevant statutory law, the law governing the taking of oaths by Legislative Councillors and other high officials, is the [Oaths and Declarations Ordinance, Cap. 11].”

(b) As recognised in Leung Kwok Hung, there is already Hong Kong domestic law which addresses the requirement under Article 104, namely, the OADO. To the extent that the Interpretation is seeking to impose specific requirements on how the oath is taken, this constitutes an interpretation not of the Basic Law, but of the OADO. This basically amounts to making new Hong Kong law on top of the OADO without going through Hong Kong’s Legislative Council.

(2) Paragraph 2(3) of the Interpretation: it states that if a person declines to take an oath, then he would lose the qualification to take office (宣 誓人拒絕宣誓,即喪失就任該條所列相應公職的資格). Further, if the person taking the oath “intentionally” utters words different from the prescribed oath, or takes the oath in a matter which is “insincere” or “not solemn”, then that would amount to declining to take the oath, the effect of which is that the oath shall be declared invalid (宣誓人故 意宣讀與法定誓言不一致的誓言或者以任何不真誠、不莊重的方式宣 誓,也屬於拒絕宣誓,所作宣誓無效):

(a) This is another clear instance of the Interpretation going beyond an interpretation of the Basic Law. These prescriptions cannot be found or even be implied from the text of Article 104.

(b) In reality, paragraph 2(3) of the Interpretation constitutes an explanation of the phrase “Any person who declines or neglects to take an oath…” found in section 21 of the OADO. Without wishing to be repetitive, we must emphasise again that the NPCSC’s powers do not extend to the interpretation of Hong Kong domestic legislation. Such interpretation is the exclusive preserve of the Hong Kong courts.

(3) Paragraph 2(4) of the Interpretation: it states, inter alia, that the oath must be taken before a person administrating the oath (監誓人) (referred to below as “the Administrator”); and that the Administrator shall not arrange for a re-taking of the oath should the oath be taken in a manner that is inconsistent with the Interpretation and the laws of the HKSAR (對不符合本解釋和香港特別行政區法律 規定的宣誓,應確定為無效宣誓,並不得重新安排宣誓):

(a) However, there is nothing in Article 104, the OADO, or the Rules of Procedure of the Legislative Council that states that there shall be no re-taking of the oath. We also note that section 19 of the OADO only states that “a member of the Legislative Council shall, as soon as possible, after commencement of his term of office, take the Legislative Council Oath”. There is no suggestion of when and where this oath shall be taken, and also no suggestion that there cannot be a re-taking of the oath.

(b) Thus, this part of the Interpretation again constitutes an interpretation or amendment of Hong Kong domestic legislation rather than the Basic Law.

(4) Paragraph 3 of the Interpretation: it purports to describe certain legal consequences after one swears the oath and/or if one does “acts” which “contravene” the oath (宣誓人必須真誠信奉並嚴格遵守法定誓言。宣誓人作虛假宣誓或者在宣誓之後從事違反誓言行為的,依法承擔法律責任):

(a) However, it is unclear who is to judge whether the oath-taker “sincerely believed” the oath. It is unclear whether “在宣誓之後 從事違反誓言行為” also includes the expression of thoughts which may somehow be considered as “contravening the oath” (違反誓言). It is unclear what is meant by “contravening the oath” and who is to judge whether there has been contravention. Furthermore, it is unclear what “legal consequences” (法律責任) are meant, as well as what “law” is being referred to when “in accordance with the law” (依法) is stated in paragraph 3.

(b) In any event, these are matters that do not fall within the ambit of Article 104, which only deals with the requirement of an oath being taken as a precondition for assuming office as (in the present instance) a legislator. The question of whether anyone can be said to have contravened an oath is a matter of Hong Kong domestic law – and yet it has been illegitimately included in the Interpretation.

18. A further question arises as to whether the Interpretation has retrospective effect (i.e. it applies to events which occurred before the date of the Interpretation). The Interpretation makes no mention of whether it has retrospective effect. However, we note with concern that this may be potentially implied. As stated in paragraph 72 of Lau Kong Yung v Director of Immigration (1999) 2 HKCFAR 300:

“The Interpretation, being an interpretation of the relevant provisions, dates from 1 July 1997 when the Basic Law came into effect. It declared what the law has always been. Compare the common law declaratory theory of judicial decisions, see Kleinwort Benson Ltd v Lincoln City Council [1998] 3 WLR 1095 at 1117 – 1119 and 1148.”

19. Lastly, we note that the Interpretation was issued together with a set of purported “explanations”. 14 These explanations are not part of the Interpretation and have no legal status under Article 158. In our opinion, they only serve to add further confusion and to highlight the politically motivated nature of the NPCSC’s actions

The Interpretation undermines the rule of law and Hong Kong’s autonomy

20. The Interpretation comes as a severe blow to the high degree of autonomy and judicial independence that was guaranteed to Hong Kong and has been the cornerstone of its prosperity.

21. It is difficult to see any legal rationale for the Interpretation, particularly because:

(1) The matter currently in question is one that can be resolved by the Hong Kong courts alone by applying the laws of Hong Kong. Article 104 is not an “excluded provision” concerning the relationship between Hong Kong and the Mainland. The question of oath taking is a matter that is already governed by the OADO.

(2) If a Legislative Council member breaches an oath, the President of the Legislative Council has the power under Article 79(7) of the Basic Law to declare that he/she is no longer qualified for the office upon a vote of two-thirds of the members of the Legislative Council members present. Thus, the matter is one which the Basic Law has already provided for.

(3) The wording of Article 104, in allowing for the oath to be taken “in accordance with law”, i.e. allowing for the legislature to define the requisite manner and form of taking the oath, signifies that a high degree of autonomy is given to Hong Kong in this respect.

(4) As widely publicised, the matter is the subject of a judicial review application which has already been heard by the Court of First Instance on 3 November 2016. In particular, paragraph 1 of the relief sought in the impeding judicial review application seeks “A declaration that the President [of the Legislative Council] has no power to readminister or allow for re-administration.” The Interpretation, being issued pending judgment on an issue that is the subject matter of ongoing litigation, is a severe blow to the independence of the judiciary in that it usurps the autonomy enjoyed by judges in deciding the matter on their own in accordance with the laws of Hong Kong.

22. The Interpretation is unprecedented and is to be contrasted from the previous four interpretations of the Basic Law because:

(1) It is issued not pursuant to any request of the CFA or the Chief Executive;

(2) It is issued prior to any judgment being made by any Hong Kong court, but after a court hearing has already taken place;

(3) It is in relation to a “non-excluded” provision;

(4) It has the effect of interpreting, amending and/or re-writing local legislation, in particular, the OADO; and

(5) It has the effect of amending the Basic Law without going through the prescribed procedures.

23. On 2 November 2016, the Bar Association issued a statement which made it clear that the (then expected) Interpretation would be:

“…a severe blow to the independence of the judiciary and the power of final adjudication of the Hong Kong Court. It will also seriously undermine the confidence of the Hong Kong people and the international community in the high degree of autonomy of the HKSAR under the principle of One Country, Two Systems. The irreparable harm it will do to Hong Kong far outweighs any purpose it could possibly achieve.”15

24. On 7 November 2016 (after the issuance of the Interpretation), the Bar Association stated in the same vein:

“The Bar considers the timing of the making of the Interpretation at this highly sensitive moment of by the NPCSC is most unfortunate, in the perception of the international community in the authority and independence of the judiciary is liable to be undermined, as would public confidence in the rule of law in Hong Kong.” 16 

25. The Progressive Lawyers Group fully agrees with these statements (and also the previous statements from the Bar Association and the Law Society regarding the NPCSC’s power of interpretation).

26. The most alarming feature of the Interpretation is that, while purporting to be an interpretation of Article 104, it effectively amounts to an interpretation, amendment or re-writing of the OADO, i.e. a local Hong Kong statute. This is cause for grave concern of the highest order. As mentioned above, the NPCSC has no right to interpret local legislation; on any proper view of the law, any attempts by the NPCSC to do so have no legal effect.17 In light of what is set out in paragraph 17 above, we consider that strictly as a matter of law, the parts of the Interpretation (which is almost all of it) which go beyond an interpretation of the Basic Law are of no legal effect and not legally binding.

27. Unfortunately, the political reality is that there are few legal means to hold the NPCSC to account. Thus, if the NPCSC begins to “interpret” the Basic Law in a way which in effect re-writes local legislation, this may well be the start of a pattern whereby the NPCSC essentially legislates for Hong Kong. It is no exaggeration to say that that would spell the end of Hong Kong’s separate system and any semblance of autonomy

28. In recent days, certain commentators have offered arguments as to why the Interpretation should be supported. We consider it essential that they should be addressed:

(1) Since the NPCSC has plenary power to make interpretations of the Basic Law under Article 158, the mere exercise of such powers would not harm Hong Kong’s rule of law or autonomy:

The right to exercise a power and the consequences in the exercise of such powers are different matters. In the present instance, the NPCSC’s exercise of its powers has effectively circumvented both pending judicial process and the autonomous exercise of Hong Kong legislative discretion. The Interpretation has also purported to go much further than merely interpreting Article 104 and has proceeded to make legislative prescriptions in relation to oaths and declarations. This constitutes an attempt at exercising powers that the NPCSC does not in fact have and is a clear flouting of the rule of law.

2) It is preferable for the Interpretation to take place before any Hong Kong Court judgment, as it would be even more harmful if the Court rules and then is contradicted by the NPCSC: 

Whether the Interpretation takes place before or after the Hong Kong Court rules in pending oath-related litigation, it would still undercut the authority of the Hong Kong Court. If anything, for the Interpretation to take place while litigation is still pending does more harm to the rule of law and judicial independence. It sends a signal that those in power are only willing to accept one result (i.e. one in its favour) in any legal dispute, and that the courts must yield to that even if they are still in the process of considering the issues. This is the hallmark of a legal system that disrespects the rule of law.

(3) To the extent that the Interpretation clarifies how Article 104 is to be applied in relation to Hong Kong laws, it may be no bad thing:

We are flabbergasted by this suggestion. Hong Kong laws can and should be clarified by Hong Kong Courts, and should be made by the Hong Kong legislature. Even if the Interpretation does “clarify” the application of Hong Kong laws, this cannot be “no bad thing” when it comes at the cost of riding roughshod over our laws, judicial system and high degree of autonomy.

4) Politicians who use foul, racist language and/or advocate Hong Kong independence have no place in the legislature, and it is good that the Interpretation deals with such individuals: 

The Progressive Lawyers Group does not support the use of inappropriate language in formal political discourse, and we accept that the Basic Law indicates that Hong Kong is an inalienable part of China. But the Basic Law also sets out fundamental rights such as the right to stand for election (Article 26) and freedom of expression (Article 27). Case law have made clear that such fundamental rights must be given maximum effect.18 The Interpretation undermines this fundamental tenet of our legal system. Even if a portion of the public may consider certain politicians to be repugnant, it bodes ill for the fundamental human and commercial rights guaranteed by the Basic Law if the NPCSC sees fit to act to purportedly “interpret” the Basic Law for political ends.

Article 104 of the Basic Law also applies to the Chief Executive, principal officials, members of the Executive Council and of the Legislative Council, judges of the courts at all levels and other members of the judiciary

29. It should be noted that Article 104 is not limited to members of the Legislative Council, but also the Chief Executive, principal officials, members of the Executive Council, judges of the courts at all levels and other members of the judiciary. We are particularly concerned about the impact of this Interpretation on the judiciary, for it may potentially further affect the independence of the judiciary in the future.

30. The Progressive Lawyers Group is concerned that the Interpretation may open the way to potential future abuse. Arguably, any high level personnel within the Government structure of Hong Kong, and also judges at all levels, could be disqualified2016.11.08 PLG Submissions on NPCSC Interpretation – final English or – in loose terms – “removed” from their offices pursuant to this Interpretation.

Conclusion

31. The Progressive Lawyers Group expresses profound regret over the Interpretation and deplores the NPCSC’s actions in the strongest terms. This blatant and abusive use of Article 158 for political purposes is unacceptable. This unrestrained use by the NPCSC of its interpretation power creates grave concerns that Hong Kong is losing all guarantee for its high degree of autonomy, judicial independence, and ultimately the rule of law. An undermining of such fundamental tenets of Hong Kong’s stability and prosperity will inevitably have a negative impact on local and international business and investor confidence in Hong Kong as an international financial and commercial centre.

Progressive Lawyers Group 8 November 2016

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1. Albert H Y Chen, “The Court of Final Appeals Ruling in the   ‘Illegal Migrant’ Children Case: Congressional Supremacy and Judicial Review”, in Johannes M M Chan et al (eds), Hong Kong’s Constitutional Debate: Conflict over Interpretation (2000) 73 at 89.
2 www.basiclaw.gov.hk/en/materials/1999_6_26.html
3 www.basiclaw.gov.hk/en/materials/doc/2004_04_06_e.pdf
4 www.basiclaw.gov.hk/en/materials/doc/2005_04_27_e.pdf
5 www.basiclaw.gov.hk/en/materials/doc/2011_08_26_e.pdf
6 HKSAR v Ng Kung Siu (1999) 2 HKCFAR 442
7 “Rule of Law in Hong Kong”, 13 September 2001, at §13. Available at www.hkba.org/events-publication/submission-position-papers.
8 “Acting Chief Executive’s Request for NPCSC Interpretation of Article 53”, 14 April 2005, §5. Available at: www.hkba.org/events-publication/submission-position-papers.
9 Law Society press statement, 28 April 2005: www.hklawsoc.org.hk/pub_e/news/press/20050428.asp
10 “Bar’s Position on the Procedure for Seeking an Interpretation of the Basic Law under Article 158(1) of the Basic Law”, 25 May 2012, §14. Available at: www.hkba.org/eventspublication/submission-position-papers.
11 http://www.hklawsoc.org.hk/pub_e/news/press/20121010.asp
12 Andrew Li, “Hong Kong’s judicial independence is here to stay”, 25 September 2015, South China Morning Post.
13 http://news.xinhuanet.com/politics/2016-11/07/c_1119862546.htm
14 http://www.news.mingpao.com/ins/instantnews/web_tc/article/20161107/s00001/1478487328
15 Available at http://www.hkba.org/events-publication/press-releases-coverage
16 Available at http://www.hkba.org/events-publication/press-releases-coverage
17 Director of Immigration v Chong Fung Yuen (2001) 4 HKCFAR 211, 223A-E; Mr Justice Bokhary, “The Rule of Law in Hong Kong: Fifteen Years After the Handover” (2012) HKLJ 373, 377; Albert H Y Chen, “The Court of Final Appeal’s Ruling in the ‘Illegal Migrant’ Children Case: Congressional Supremacy and Judicial Review”, in Johannes M M Chan et al (eds), Hong Kong’s Constitutional Debate: Conflict over Interpretation (2000) at pp.73-96.
18 See e.g. Ubamaka v Secretary for Security (2012) 15 HKCFAR 743, at para. 116.

Statement originally appeared in Stand News on 8 November 2016

法政匯思就朱凱迪先生遭受威脅的聲明(Statement in relation to Threats against Mr Eddie Chu Hoi Dick)

1. 候任立法會議員朱凱迪先生在星期四透露,自被新界西選民選為立法會議員之後,多次收到危及他和家人性命安全的威脅。朱先生指他和家人過去也因他在新界的社區和政治工作多次受恐嚇。朱先生已向警方報案,而警方亦同意向他提供人身保護。

2. 法政匯思對事件表示擔心:

– 任何對他人的人身安全甚至生命作出恐嚇,一經證實,必然構成嚴重的刑事罪行。當務之急,是將犯下這樣令人髮指的罪行的人繩之於法。

– 此外,言論自由和參選的權利乃是被莊嚴載入《基本法》和《香港人權法案條例》的基本自由。若公民在行使這些權利時要為他們的自身安全而擔憂的話,那麼這些權利已無可避免地受到嚴重損害,更可能令這些權利形同虚設。如果朱先生和他的家人受到威嚇的理由,是和他就社會利益而發聲及/或因他作為民選政治人物的身份有關,那麽作出這些威嚇的人,就是公然侮辱法治。

– 朱先生剛被民意授權爲代表新界西地區的立法會議員(而且在全港所有地區直選候選人中得票最高、榮登「票王」),這使得上述那種對法治的公然侮辱更為明顯。任何對民選政治人物的威脅,都是對民主(無論香港在這方面是如何不足)本身的威脅。

3. 因此,法政匯思要求執法部門:

– 採取一切必要行動以保障朱先生及其家人的安全;及

– 更重要的是,迅速地將這些威脅的幕後黑手繩之於法,盡快使朱先生及其家人能夠免於畏懼地重返正常生活。

4. 最後,我們想告訴那些針對朱先生及其家人的那些主謀及/或作惡者: 香港人絕對不會容忍或姑息你們的犯罪行爲。你們正與香港人爲敵。

法政匯思
2016年9月10日

1. On Thursday, Legislative Councillor-elect Mr Eddie Chu Hoi Dick revealed that he has, in the days since he was elected by the people of New Territories West to the Legislative Council, received specific threats on his and his family’s lives. This follows previous threats against his and his family’s safety in the past over his community and political work in the New Territories. He has reported the matter to the police and is under police protection.

2. The Progressive Lawyers Group is alarmed by such threats against Mr Chu:

– Any threats against the safety or even life of any person would, if proven, clearly constitute serious criminal offences. It is imperative that anyone committing such heinous crimes must be brought to justice.

– In addition, the right to free speech and to stand for election are fundamental freedoms enshrined by the Basic Law and the Hong Kong Bill of Rights Ordinance. Such rights are inevitably and fundamentally undermined when citizens are in fear of their safety in exercising such rights. This risks rendering nugatory the availability of such rights. To the extent that the threats against Mr Chu and his family are connected to his speaking out on issues of community interest and/or performing his role as an elected political figure, this constitutes a brazen affront to the rule of law.

– This affront is further magnified where Mr Chu has just been given a popular mandate (and resoundingly so as the individual with the highest number of votes of any Geographical Constituency candidate) to be a representative of the people of New Territories West. Any threat on a popularly elected politician is a threat to democracy itself (however limited it may be in Hong Kong).

3. The Progressive Lawyers Group therefore demands that law enforcement agencies:

– take all necessary action to guarantee the safety of Mr Chu and his family; and

– even more importantly, enable Mr Chu and his family to return to normal life without fear as soon as possible by swiftly bringing all those who are behind such threats to justice.

4. Finally, to those who masterminded and/or perpetrated these acts of outrage against Mr Chu and his family, we have this to say to you. The people of Hong Kong will never tolerate or condone your criminal behaviour. You are the enemy of the people of Hong Kong.

Progressive Lawyers Group
10 September 2016

 

Article originally appeared in Stand News on 10 September 2016

法政匯思就選舉管理委員會於2016年7月14日發出的聲明 (Statement on the Press Statement by the Electoral Affairs Commission on 14 July 2016)

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

法政匯思就林榮基先生之聲明 (Statement regarding Mr Lam Wing Kee)

(Please scroll down for English Version)

一個自稱依法治國的地方,竟然會把一個人捉拿多時都不通知他為何被拘留。

一個自稱依法治國的地方,竟然剝奪被拘留人士的法律權利,施壓要求他「自願」地放棄他找律師、通知家人的權利。

一個自稱依法治國的地方,竟然在沒有提控、沒有審訊情況下迫被拘留人士為電視台錄下「認罪」影像。

一個自稱依法治國的地方,竟然把一位沒有被控告的人拘禁多月。

一個自稱依法治國的地方,竟然以白色恐怖換來被剝削法律權利人士的沉默,連自己是在違反一國兩制原則下在香港被內地官員擄走都只敢私底下說、不敢公諸於世。

一個自稱依法治國的地方,竟然、竟然、竟然….. 無論幾多個「竟然」,都停不了一位勇敢的香港人,林榮基先生,去揭發以上一切的黑幕、一切的虛偽,使「依法治國」這個謊言赤裸裸地展露。

作為香港人,我們要堅守我們的法治,否則我們人人都會被「依法治國」。

作為香港人,我們要堅守我們的核心價值,強烈要求這些荒唐的事永遠都不會再發生在香港人、甚至中國人身上。

作為香港人,我們要求官方全面交代銅鑼灣書店事件、向五位曾被捉走的書店成員及其親友就其受到不恰當對待道歉、向所有香港人就破壞一國兩制道歉。

作為香港人,我們要拒絕恐懼、鼓起勇氣。

法政匯思
2016年6月17日

A place claims itself to be ruled in accordance with law, yet it would capture a person for an extended period without notifying him of the reasons for his detention.

A place claims to be ruled in accordance with law, yet it strips a detained person of his legal rights, pressuring him “voluntarily” to surrender his rights to have access to a lawyer and to notify his family.

A place claims to be ruled in accordance with law, yet a detained person who has not been charged or tried is forced to record for a television station a video of his “confession”.

A place claims to be ruled in accordance with law, yet it detains a person who has not been charged with an offence for many months.

A place claims to be ruled in accordance with law, yet it creates white terror to gain the silence of those whose rights have been deprived; even a person who has been kidnapped by Mainland officers in Hong Kong in violation of One Country, Two Systems can only speak of it privately, and dares not making this public himself.

A place claims itself to be ruled in accordance with law, yet, yet, yet… No matter how many “yets” are out there, that cannot stop a courageous Hong Konger, Mr Lam Wing Kee, from uncovering all these dark practices and their hypocrisy, nakedly exposing the lie that is “ruled in accordance with law” slogan.

As Hong Kongers, we must firmly defend our rule of law, or else we will al be “ruled in accordance with law”.

As Hong Kongers, we must firmly defend our core values, and strongly demand that such outrageous practices will never again be imposed on Hong Kongers, or even the people of China.

As Hong Kongers, we demand that officials fully account for what happened in relation to the Causeway Bay Bookshop, apologise to the five bookshop members who have been captured and their family and friends for inappropriate treatment against them, and apologise to all Hong Kongers for damaging One Country, Two Systems.

As Hong Kongers, we must reject fear and embrace courage.

Progressive Lawyers Group
17 June 2016

Statement was originally published in Stand News on 17 June 2016

法政匯思短評:關於新民黨對酷刑聲請人的看法 (Short Commentary in relation to the the New People’s Party’s Position on Torture Claimants)

(Please scroll down for English Version)

法政匯思近日留意到,新民黨在以「假難民危害治安」為題的宣傳單張上,稱滯留在港的酷刑聲請人為「假難民」,並指斥他們涉及多種刑事罪行,「嚴重影響香港治安」。新民黨並提出包括修訂入境條例和設立緊閉式難民營的建議。

上述的說法和建議,不但誤導公眾及妖魔化酷刑聲請人,更忽略了香港政府保障酷刑聲請人的國際責任。法政匯思對此深感遺憾。

首先,部份酷刑聲請人或涉及刑事案件,但這和其身分是否難民並沒有必然的關係,本港亦有行之有效的執法和司法系統,有能力打擊和處理相關的罪案。如果僅僅因為有部份酷刑聲請人涉及刑事案件,就妖魔化所有酷刑聲請人,不但對奉公守法的酷刑聲請人不公平,如妖魔化集中於某幾個國家的人士,更有種族歧視之嫌。

誠如新民黨的單張所言,《禁止酷刑和其他殘忍、不人道或有辱人格的待遇或處罰公約》(下稱《禁止酷刑公約》)第3條規定:「如有充分理由相信任何人在另一國家將有遭受酷刑的危險,任何締約國不得將該人驅逐、遣返或引渡至該國家。」《禁止酷刑公約》的規定建基於《公民權利及政治權利國際公約》(下稱《公約》)第7條。而《公約》第7條早已通過《香港人權法案條例》成為本港法律。基本法第39條亦規定《公約》適用於香港的有關規定繼續有效。

此外,終審法院在 2012年的Ubamaka*一案中裁定,《香港人權法案條例》第3條下的權利是不可減損以及是絕對的。因此,香港政府在行使遣送或遞解權力之前,一定要審慎評估,確認被遣返的酷刑聲請人不會有遭受酷刑或不人道對待的實際風險。

是以,香港政府同時負有憲法和人道責任,為酷刑聲請人提供完善有效率的審核機制,並在等待審核結果期間,為他們提供基本的生活條件。如酷刑聲請人,最終無法通過審核,自然會被港府遣返,而無法以「難民」的身分繼續滯留在港;如該酷刑聲請人通過審核,而獲得港府庇護,「假難民」的說法亦不能成立。如我們在審核完成以前,也就是在酷刑聲請人的難民資格尚未確定以前,就以「假難民」的負面標籤加諸在酷刑聲請人,是未審先判、嚴重違反法治精神,同時亦只會引起社會大眾對這些人士無理的怨氣甚至敵意。

新民黨提出在深圳設立緊閉式難民營,以安置酷刑聲請人士。事實上,不管難民營設在境內還是境外,這都是漠視了只要香港政府能夠對羈留人士行使控制權,香港政府就必須受到《公民權利及政治權利國際公約》制約的事實。**

而緊閉式難民營極有可能違反《公約》第9條:「人人有權享有人身自由和安全。任何人不得加以任意逮捕或拘禁。除非依照法律所確定的根據和程序,任何人不得被剝奪自由。」任何非法或不合理的拘留更有可能違反公權法中歷史最悠久的一種濟助,就是賦予法院頒布「人身保護令」(Habeas Corpus) 的權力。

事實上,澳洲政府曾經通過在境外設立羈留中心安置難民,但就被聯合國多次批評,認為澳洲政府的做法違反了《公民權利和政治權利國際公約》第9條,部份羈留中心最後亦被關閉。

《禁止酷刑公約》、《公民權利及政治權利國際公約》、《香港人權法案條例》和《基本法》等國際人權法和憲法連結成的這道保護網,可說是任何修讀法律的人士耳熟能詳的,在此,我們呼籲新民黨就酷刑聲請人議題不要再誤導市民大眾了。

法政匯思

2016年5月14日

*Ubamaka, Edward Wilson v Secretary for Security & Director of Immigration (2012) 15 HKCFAR 743
**Human Rights Committee commented in General Comment No.31.

The PLG recently noted that the New People’s Party (the “NPP”) has alleged in its information leaflet titled “Fake Refugees Endanger Public Order” that torture claimants stranded in Hong Kong are “fake refugees”. It further criticised torture claimants for being involved in various criminal activities and “severely affecting the public order of Hong Kong”. The NPP also suggested amending the Immigration Ordinance and setting up closed refugee camps.

The above allegations and suggestions do not only mislead the public and demonise torture claimants, they also neglect that the Hong Kong government had a duty under international law to protecting torture claimants. PLG considers this as being most unfortunate.

First, while some torture claimants may have been involved in criminal cases, there is no inevitable correlation between this and their refugee status or otherwise. Hong Kong also has an effective legal enforcement and judicial system with sufficient capacity to tackle and handle the criminal activities concerned. It would be unfair to those law-abiding torture claimants for one to demonise all torture claimants solely because of the criminal activities that may have been committed by some of them, and it would even be discriminatory if such demonisation were targeted at particular nationals.

As conceded in the NPP’s leaflet, Article 3 of the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (“the Convention against Torture”) provides that “No State Party shall expel, return or extradite a person to another State where there are substantial grounds for believing that he would be in danger of being subjected to torture.” The Convention against Torture is based on Article 7 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (“ICCPR”). Article 7 has been incorporated through the Hong Kong Bill of Rights Ordinance and become the Laws of Hong Kong. Article 39 of the Basic Law also provides that the provisions of ICCPR as applied to Hong Kong shall remain in force.

In addition, the Court of Final Appeal held in the case of Ubamaka* in 2012 that the right under Article 3 of the Hong Kong Bill of Rights Ordinance is non-derogable and absolute. Therefore, before the Hong Kong government exercises its power to deport, it has to make a careful assessment to make sure that a tortcure claimant being deported will not be exposed to a real risk of being tortured or subject to inhuman treatment.

As such, the Hong Kong government bears the constitutional and moral responsibility to provide torture claimants with a well-established and efficient assessment mechanism, as well as providing them with a basic living standard while their assessment result is pending. If the torture claimant cannot pass the assessment in the end, he would be deported by the government and thus cannot stay in Hong Kong as a “refugee”. If the torture claimant satisfies the test and gets protection from the Hong Kong government, the label “fake refugees” would then have no basis in fact. Labeling torture claimants with the negative label of “fake refugees” before the assessment is completed (ie before the confirmation of the identity of the torture claimants) constitute condemnation of claimants before their claims have been determined, and is strongly against the sprit of the rule of law. It will inevitably cause hostility or unjustified resentment towards claimants amongst members of the public.

The NPP proposed to establish closed refugee camps in Shenzhen to house tortured claimants. In fact, whether the refugee camp is located in or out of Hong Kong, this has disregarded the fact that as long as the Hong Kong government is able to exercise control over a detained person, the Hong Kong government must be subject to the ICCPR.**

Further, closed refugee camps is highly likely to contravene Article 9 of the ICCPR, which provides that “Everyone has the right to liberty and security of person. No one shall be subjected to arbitrary arrest or detention. No one shall be deprived of his liberty except on such grounds and in accordance with such procedure as are established by law.” Any unlawful or unreasonable detention may contravene one of the oldest type of remedy in history – the power of the court to grant habeas corpus.

In fact, the Australian government had set up overseas detention centres to house refugees. However, it was criticised by the United Nations on numerous occasions. The United Nations considered the Australian government to have contravened Article 9 of the ICCPR. Some of these detention centres were subsequently shut down.

Anyone with familiarity with the law ought to be familiar with the protection offered by international human rights law and constitutional law such as the Convention against Torture, the ICCPR, the Hong Kong Bill of Rights Ordinance and the Basic Law. As such, we call on the NPP to cease misleading the public on the issue of torture claimants.

Progressive Lawyers Group
14 May 2016
*Ubamaka, Edward Wilson v Secretary for Security & Director of Immigration (2012) 15 HKCFAR 743
**Human Rights Committee commented in General Comment No.31.

Statement was originally published in Stand News on 14 May 2016

法政匯思就2016年律師會理事會選舉的聲明(Statement in relation to the 2016 Law Society Council Election)

(中文版在英文版之下)

1. The Law Society of Hong Kong’s Annual General Meeting will take place on 26 May 2016. Six vacancies on the Law Society Council (the Council consists of twenty members in total) are up for election this year, with nine solicitors having presented themselves as candidates for fill these vacancies. In other words, there will be a contested election for Law Society Council positions this year.

2. In this regard, the Progressive Lawyers Group does not wish to involve itself in ways that may be misunderstood as attempts to politicise the process. We will therefore not be endorsing any of the candidates.

3. However, we would like to urge all members of the Law Society to find out as much as possible about the candidates and cast votes in this year’s Council elections. The Law Society is important not only because it is set up to act in the interests of the solicitors’ branch of the legal profession. Its formal positions on issues of public importance do generate attention in the public realm and may be considered by some members of the public as being representative of solicitors as a whole. Every vote from Law Society members for Council candidates is important in shaping how solicitors’ profession advances its interests, as well as the esteem in which solicitors are held by the public.

4. Our message to Law Society members is, therefore, simple: whether you vote in person at the Annual General Meeting, by post or by proxy, make sure you cast your votes for Council candidates who best represent your views!

Progressive Lawyers Group
13 May 2016

1. 香港律師會的周年大會將會於2016年5月26日舉行。 律師會理事會今年有六個空缺(理事會一共有二十個會員)作選舉,而九位事務律師將出任候選人填補這些空缺。換句話說,今年是一個將會有人競逐的律師會理事會選舉。

2. 在這方面,法政匯思不希望被誤解為企圖把這過程政治化。因此,我們不會支持任何一位候選人。

3. 然而,我們鼓勵所有律師會會員儘量了解有關理事會候選人的資料,並於這次理事會選舉中投票。香港律師會的重要性不單在於它成立的宗旨是為維護事務律師業界的利益,它就公共事務重要議題上的官方立場更受到公眾的關注,並可能被公眾認為是代表事務律師的整體立場。律師會會員的每一票都能就塑造事務律師行業如何促進業界的利益、以及公眾對事務律師的觀感發揮重要的作用。

4. 我們給所有律師會會員的訊息很簡單 :無論你選擇於周年大會親身投票、或是以郵寄方式投票、或是以授權票方式投票,請記得投票選出最能代表你意見的理事會候選人!

法政匯思
2016年5月13日

 

Article was originally published in Stand News on 13 May 2016

 

法政匯思就選舉活動建議指引公眾諮詢所提交之意見書 (Submissions on the Electoral Affairs Commission’s Public Consultation on Election-related Activities relating to Legco Election)

(Please scroll down for English Version)

A.       摘要

1. 選舉管理委員會 (下稱「選委會」) 就擬訂立有關香港特別行政區立法會 (下稱「立法會」) 選舉活動的建議指引 (下稱「《建議指引》」) 展開了公衆諮詢。法政匯思就《建議指引》提交本意見書。

2. 法政匯思就《建議指引》中對《選舉活動指引》第八章,尤其是第 8.3 及 8.4 段的修訂表示關注。根據該等修改後的規定,香港居民在網上討論區及社交媒體上所進行的衆多日常活動、評論、辯論及討論,皆可能被當作及分類為「選舉廣告」(下稱「選舉廣告」)。

3. 《建議指引》第 8.3 及 8.4 段的定義非常廣泛,並可能導致個人或團體在選舉舉行之前或期間獨立行使其表達自由時,觸犯《選舉(舞弊及非法行為)條例》(香港法例第554章)(下稱「《選舉(舞弊及非法行為)條例》」)第23條下的罪行並被判處罰款或高達三年的監禁[1]

4. 法政匯思認為,《建議指引》第 8.3 及 8.4 段所採用的字眼足以導致香港選民受《中華人民共和國香港特別行政區基本法》(下稱「《基本法》」) 第27條及《香港人權法案條例》(香港法例第383章) (下稱「《香港人權法案條例》」) 第16 及21條所保證及保障的表達自由及參與公眾生活的權利遭受不合理的干擾。

5. 因此,法政匯思提出以下建議:

(1)個別人士表達政見的行為(即使是宣傳某候選人或對某候選人不利)應從「選舉廣告」的定義中明文豁免;

(2)《建議指引》不應作出將社交媒體區別於傳統出版物並將兩者分開處理的具體提述,因社交媒體與傳統出版物應獲相若處理 (換句話說,以電子或實體方式發送或分享競選宣傳並無並無原則上的區別)。如果茶餘飯後在親朋戚友面前宣傳或批評某候選人並不構成「選舉宣傳」,那麼在「臉書」帳戶上作出的相同行為便不應視作非法;及

(3)對「選舉期之前」的提述應予以移除,因為這會導致選舉期開始之前的宣傳都會受制於選舉宣傳相關法例條文的規定。

B.       選舉開支和言論自由的相關法律

政治表達及有意義參與選舉的基本權利

6. 基本法第27條以及香港人權法案條例第16條規定香港居民享有言論和發表個人意見的自由 。香港人權法案第21條亦保護參與公眾生活的權利。這說明在選區期間表達以及接受政治意見的權利,以及辯論和討論政治取態的權利均為受保護的基本人權。[2]

7. 不過,這些權利不是絕對的且是受規管的。在香港,條例的規管主要是針對候選人。候選人的選舉經費設有上限。這是為了保證選舉的平等、自由、公平以及便於符合資格人士參選 (即防止財雄勢大的候選人通過大量購買廣告位,從而提升自身公眾曝光率,扼殺其他候選人就其政見辯論的空間)[3]。這一推論是基於選民在接觸公開辯論和演講後,能就投票予誰作出明智決定的假定上的。由此,限制選舉經費的目的是為了令選民之間的言論自由和辯論不受壓制。

選舉(舞弊及非法行為)條例

8.《選舉(舞弊及非法行為)條例》規管了候選人開支,就所有選舉廣告活動,包括就選舉開支設以上限,提供了法定基礎。

9.「選舉開支」在《選舉(舞弊及非法行為)條例》的第2(1)條被定義為:由該候選人或該候選人組合或由他人代該候選人或該候選人組合,為促使該候選人或該候選人組合當選,或為阻礙另一候選人或另一候選人組合當選,而招致或將招致的開支,包括包含貨品及服務而用於上述用途的選舉捐贈的價值。

10. 而「選舉廣告」在《選舉(舞弊及非法行為)條例》的第2(1)條被定義為:就選舉而言,指為促使或阻礙一名或多於一名候選人在選舉中當選而發布的公開展示的通知,或由專人交付或用電子傳送的通知,或以無線電或電視廣播,或以錄像片或電影片作出的公告,或任何其他形式的發布。

11. 按《選舉(舞弊及非法行為)條例》第23條規定,只有候選人或候選人的選舉開支代理人可代候選人招致選舉開支[4]。任何其他人士作出被視為招致選舉開支的行為均可於《選舉(舞弊及非法行為)條例》第22條下被裁定犯了在選舉中作出非法行為的罪行。

12. 若有未經授權人士被視為代候選人招致選舉開支,該開支將計算在該候選人的選舉開支總額内。《選舉(舞弊及非法行為)條例》第24條清楚表明這點 — 候選人雖然可能因選舉開支總額超過選舉開支最高限額而於第24條第(1)段下在選舉中被視為非法行為,但該選舉人可按第24條第(3)段證明相關開支是在其無疏忽下及未經其同意下招致的,以作出免責辯護。

《建議指引》與相關法規

13. 下列活動於《建議指引》下均可構成選舉廣告:

(1) 一般而言,《建議指引》第8.3段規定任何人士或團體於選舉舉行之前或期間發佈任何材料以直接或間接鼓勵選民投票給候選人,均可視為選舉廣告而因而可視為招致選舉開支。

(2) 《建議指引》第8.4段更特別規定任何人士或組織于互聯網平台上(即網站、社交媒體、通訊網路等)發佈旨在促成或阻礙某位候選人當選的資訊, 即屬選舉廣告。

(3)《建議指引》第8.4段下有一項例外 — 倘若網民分享或轉發競選宣傳但沒有促使或阻礙某位候選人當選的意圖,此行為並不符合發布選舉廣告的定義。

深入討論

14. 如上述指出,《選舉(舞弊及非法行為)條例》的目的是限制候選人的選舉開支,從而推廣自由和公正的選舉。 因此,《建議指引》必須符合此立法意圖,不應超越其既定目的。

15. 法政匯思認為就第8.3及第8.4段有兩項問題:

(1) 首先,第8.3及第8.4段下「選舉廣告」的定義是否太廣泛?

(2) 此外,第8.3及第8.4段於選舉舉行前限制政治意見的表達是否合理?

「選舉廣告」定義太廣泛

16. 終審法院曾判定《選舉(舞弊及非法行為)條例》中「選舉開支」的法定意義非常廣泛,故此必須小心詮釋,否則所有活動也會被視為選舉開支,縱使此非立法原意[5]

17. 以類似方法詮釋選委會訂立的《建議指引》第8.3 及8.4段內何謂選舉廣告,則「選舉廣告」的定義包括:

(1) 「任何人士發佈任何材料」以「直接或間接鼓勵選民投票或不投票及某些候選人…而無論其該些材料是否含有候選人的名字或照片」;及

(2) 「任何在互聯網平台上發佈旨在促成或阻礙某位候選人當選的訊息」。

18. 無相關意圖的活動可包括個人在互聯網,社交平台或通訊網絡發表其政治意見或對某些候選人的偏好。任何人在沒有候選人唆擺下而製作嘲諷其他候選人的作品,亦被視為促成或阻礙某會位候選人當選[6]。而這些政治意見是無可避免會促成或阻礙一個或更多選舉候選人當選[7]

19. 第8.4段有一項例外,但該例外只限於個人分享或轉發競選宣傳。這表示網民若自創內容,例如自撰訊息或發佈視頻等,就有可能負上刑事責任。另外,第8.4段未有澄清網民如何證明他們在分享或轉發選舉宣傳時,並沒有任何促成或阻礙候選人當選的意圖。只要任何人轉發或分享某位候選人的宣傳選舉宣傳時,他已在促成某位候選人當選而阻礙其他候選人。

20. 法政匯思因此認為就目前的草案來看,《建議指引》第8.3和8.4段會對香港居民表達自己的政治觀點及有意義的參與公共生活的憲法權利造成一種違憲的干擾。

21. 此外,在這裏必須指出《選舉(舞弊及非法行為)條例》第24條還要求所有候選人申報所有選舉開支,包括那些未經授權的開支。如果沒有申報,則屬非法行為。雖然可利用已採取合理的措施去申報作為法定的抗辯理由,或者說這些費用是沒有得到候選人的同意下而支付,但這無疑在選舉後期造成不必要的混亂,並會增加無辜的候選人提出多項選舉呈請的可能性。

對政治表達的時間性限制

22. 此外,第8.3和8.4段規定禁止這些並無違法的活動在選舉期間之前進行。根據《選舉(舞弊及非法行為)條例》第2(1)條,選舉期間是指由選舉提名日起,至該項選舉投票日止的期間。

23. 終審法院判定「《選舉(舞弊及非法行為)條例》內有關選舉開支的條文旨在規範的活動類型或事項,僅包含那些在特定的選舉和在選舉期間或者在某一個人的候選期間內進行的活動或事項(以開始時間較早者為準)。」[8]

24. 法政匯思同意終審法院對《選舉(舞弊及非法行為)條例》的解讀。因此,第8.3段所規定,關於選舉期間之前的時間性限制,明顯是直接違背終審法院的判決,在法理上是錯誤及違憲的。

C.      結論和建議

25. 立法會秘書處早前已提供一份文件比較海外地方如何規管在選舉中社交媒體的運用[9]。值得留意的是在英國、新西蘭及加拿大:

(1) 這些國家有條例區分個人活動及候選人及特許選舉代理的活動;及

(2) 個人活動設有特定上限,而超過該上限只影響個人,並不是增加有關候選人負擔。而新西蘭及加拿大則不設相關上限。

26. 法政匯思認為《建議指引》第8.3及8.4段沒有合理地區分那些活動應被《選舉(舞弊及非法行為)條例》監管,那些為合法活動(即個人政見表述)。正如上訴庭早前指出「選舉經費指的正正是候選人就選舉的舉辦及管理而作出的經費;換言之是針對選舉工程的活動及事宜」。[10]

27. 再者,如不豁免個人活動,選委會是要求所有候選人負上監控所有網上平台、社交媒體及通訊網絡的責任。法政匯思認為這樣的負擔相對於《選舉(舞弊及非法行為)條例》的目的並不成比例,而選委會實際上亦無法執行。

28. 法政匯思提議以下有關8.3及8.4段的修改:

(1)  個別人士傳播政見的行為(即使是宣傳某候選人或對某候選人不利)應從「選舉廣告」的定義中明文豁免;

(2) 《建議指引》不應作出將社交媒體區別於傳統出版物並將兩者分開處理的具體提述,因社交媒體與傳統出版物應獲相若處理 (換句話說,以電子或實物方式發送或分享競選宣傳並無並無原則上的區別)。如果茶餘飯後在親朋戚友面前宣傳或批評某候選人並不構成「選舉宣傳」,那麼在「臉書」帳戶上作出的相同行為便不應視作非法;及

(3)  對「選舉期之前」的提述應予以移除,因為這會導致選舉期開始之前的宣傳都會受制於選舉宣傳相關法例條文的規定。

2016年4月1日

法政匯思

—————

[1]     《選舉(舞弊及非法行為)條例》第22條規定:-

(1)     任何人在選舉中作出非法行為,即屬犯罪—
(a)     如循簡易程序審訊,一經定罪,可處第5級罰款及監禁1年;或
(b)     如循公訴程序審訊,一經定罪,可處罰款$200000及監禁3年。
(2)     如任何人被裁斷在選舉期間前、在選舉期間內或在選舉期間後作出非法行為,則該人可被裁定犯了在選舉中作出非法行為的罪行。

[2]    英國1998年2月19日判決的案例Bowman v. The United Kingdom (141/1996/762/959) 的第42段:

「自由選舉和言論自由,特別是政治辯論的自由,共同構成任何民主制度的基石 (見1987年3月2日判決的案例 the Mathieu-Mohin and Clerfayt v. Belgium第22頁第47段,以及1986年7月8日判決的案例the Lingens v. Austria第26頁第41-42段)。這兩項權利是相互關聯並相互加強的:比如,由過往法庭的經驗來看,言論自由是確保人民能自由表達選擇立法機關意見的其中一項必要條件 (見上述案例Mathieu-Mohin and Clerfayt 的判決書第24頁第54段)。」

[3]  見備註二,第43段。

[4] 《選舉(舞弊及非法行為)條例》第23(1)及(2)條。[1]

[5]    Mok Charles Peter v Tam Wai Ho & Anor (2012) 15 HKCFAR 489的第30段。

[6]    See for example this Youtube video – JFung Remix (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=S-9jtQi7JJI)

[7]    Director of Public Prosecutions v Luft [1977] AC 962, 983G-984A一案中的判詞第32段:「事情總有兩面,阻礙競選對手當選亦同時會促成自己當選。」

[8]    Ma CJ第38段的第3點。

[9]  http://www.legco.gov.hk/research-publications/english/1516in01-regulation-of-the-use-of-social-media-in-election-in-selected-places-20151030-e.pdf

[10] Ma CJ第41段的第3點。


Submissions of the Progressive Lawyers Group on the Electoral Affairs Commission’s Public Consultation on Election-related Activities relating to Legco 
Election

A.      Summary

1. The Electoral Affairs Commission (“EAC”) has initiated a public consultation to invite comments on a Proposed Guidelines on election-related activities in respect of the Legislative Council (“LegCo”) Election (“the Proposed Guidelines”).  These are the Progressive Lawyers Group’s (“PLG”) submissions.

2. The Progressive Lawyers Group’s (“PLG”) is concerned about the amendments to the Proposed Guidelines under Chapter 8 and in particular, Paragraphs 8.3 and 8.4 which provide that many common daily activities, commentaries, debates and discussions which occur in online forums and on social media amongst individual residents of Hong Kong, may be deemed and classified as an Electoral Advertisement (“EA”).

3. Paragraphs 8.3 and 8.4 of the Proposed Guidelines are drafted in such wide terms that individuals and groups acting independently and exercising their freedom of expression before, during or after the election period, may be found liable and in breach of Section 23 of the Elections (Corrupt and Illegal Conduct) Ordinance, Cap. 554 (“ECICO”) which can result in fines or periods of imprisonment up to 3 years.[1]

4. The PLG is of the view that the present wording of Paragraphs 8.3 and 8.4 of the Proposed Guidelines amountsis framed in manner that can lead to an unjustifiable interference with Hong Kong voters’ freedom of expression and the right to participation in public life as guaranteed and protected by Article 27 of the Basic Law (“HKBL”), and Articles 16 and 21 of the Hong Kong Bill of Rights (“HKBOR”).

5. The PLG therefore recommends that:

(1) Individual acts of broadcasting personal expressions of political expression which may promote or prejudice a candidate should be expressly exempted from the definition of an Electoral Advertisement; and

(2) Specific references to social media as a separate measure from traditional methods of publication should be removed as they should be treated similarly (i.e. there is no principled distinction between forwarding or sharing an election campaign digitally and physically);).  If it is not an electoral advert to promote or prejudice a candidate to friends and family at a dim sum table, it should not be unlawful to do the same on a Facebook account; and

(3) The reference to “before” the election period should be removed as this suggests that pre-election period advocacy may be caught by provisions which are specific to electoral campaigning.

 

B.      The Law on Regulation of Electoral Expenses and Freedom of Expression

Fundamental Rights to Political Expression and Meaningful Participation in Elections

6. HKBL Article 27 and HKBOR Article 16 provide that all persons in Hong Kong enjoy the fundamental rights to the freedom of expression and opinion.  HKBOR Article 21 also protects the right to take part in public life.  What this means is that the right to express and receive political opinions, and the right to debate and discuss ones personal views during elections are protected fundamental human rights.[2]

7. Such rights are however not absolute and may be regulated.  InRegulation in Hong Kong’s form of democracy, limits to each Kong is imposed primarily on candidates expenditure.  Candidates are not allowed to spend above a fixed ceiling on electoral expense are imposed for the purpose of protecting the integrity of our elections,expenses. This is to ensure that theyelections remain egalitarian, free, fair and accessible (i.e. to prevent rich and resource heavy candidates from buying up advertising and increasing public exposure and denying space for informed debates).[3]  The corollary is that voters are able to make informed decisions about whom to vote, and to be able to participate in the elections through open debate and discourse.  The purpose of regulating election expenditure is not to stifle free speech and debate amongst voters.

The ECICO

8. The regulation of candidate expenditure is provided for by the ECICO is .  It provides the statutory provision that regulatesfooting to regulate all electoral advertising activities generally including the imposition of limits to electoral expenses.

9. Elections expenses are defined in ECICO s.2(1) as expenses incurred either by a candidate or on behalf of a candidate for the purpose of promoting the election of the candidate or prejudicing the election of another candidate and includes the value of election donations consisting of goods and services used for that purpose.

10. Election advertisements are also defined in ECICO s.2(1) as a publicly exhibited notice, a notice delivered by hand or electronic transmission, a public announcement made by radio or television or by video or cinematographic film, any other form of publication, published for the purpose of promoting or prejudicing the election of a candidate or candidates at the election.

11. ECICO s.23 provides that only the candidate or persons authorised by the candidate are entitled to incur expenses on behalf of a candidate only.[4]  Anyone who is not authorised but is deemed to have incurred an electoral expense is liable for prosecution of a criminal offence under ECICO s.22.

12. If an unauthorised person is deemed to have incurred electoral expenses on behalf of a candidate, such expenses are counted towards a candidate.  This is made clear by ECICO s.24 because although subsection (1) provides that although the candidate may be found to have engaged in illegal conduct in exceeding electoral expense limits, subsection (3) provides for a defence that such expenses were incurred without the candidate’s negligence or his/her consent.

The Proposed Guidelines and the Statutory Context

13. The following activities under the Proposed Guidelines may amount to an Electoral Advert:

(1) Proposed Guidelines Paragraph 8.3 provides generally that any materials published by any person or organisation, during or before the election period, to appeal directly or indirectly to electors to vote or note vote for candidates, may be regarded as Electoral Adverts and therefore will be regarded as election expenses.

(2) Proposed Guidelines Paragraph 8.4 provides specifically that an individual or group who publishes a message through internet platforms (i.e. websites, social media, communication networks, etc.) that promotes or prejudices electoral candidates is an Electoral Advert.

(3) Proposed Guidelines Paragraph 8.4 provides one exception to the above – namely, web surfers are allowed to share or forward different candidates election campaigns if they do not intend to promote or prejudice the elections of any candidates.

Discussion

14. It is important to considerAs set out above, the reasonablenesspurpose of the ECICO is to promote free and fair elections by imposing limits on candidates spending on electoral expenses.  The Proposed Guidelines inmust thereore be consistent with the context oflegislative intent with the statutory provision to ensure the Proposed Guidelines doECICO and not go beyond the intended intention of the legislature.  The its stated purpose.

15. The PLG is of the view that Paragraphs 8.3 and 8.4 raise two issues ariseto consider:

(1) First, is the construction of electoral advertisement under Paragraph 8.3 and 8.4 too wide?

(2) Second, is it reasonable for Paragraph 8.3 and 8.4 to restrict political expression before the commencement of the election period?

Definition of Electoral Advertisement too wide

The Court of Final Appeal has previously held that the statutory definition of an election expense under the ECICO is extremely wide and therefore it must be carefully construed otherwise “all sorts of activity may be caught by the definition when this could not have been the statutory intention.”[5]

17. Adopting a similar approach to the construction of the EAC of electoral advertisments under the Proposed Guidelines Paragraphs 8.3 and 8.4, the PLG is of the view that by defining Electoral Advertisements to include:

(1)“any materials published by any person” that “appeal directly or indirectly to electors to vote or not vote for certain candidates … and whether they contain any names or photographs of candidates”; and

(2)“a message published through internet platforms … for promoting the election of a candidate or prejudicing the election of other candidates”

the aforesaid definition is so wide that it includes all sorts of innocent activities.

18. Such innocent activities include individuals expressing their personal political opinions or preferences for candidates on the internet, social networks or communication networks.  Satirical pieces which poke fun of candidates often created by individuals without any instigation from any candidate may be deemed to promote or prejudice one candidate over another.[6]  It is also inevitable that such political opinion will promote or prejudice on or more electoral candidates.[7]

19. Paragraph 8.4 which does expressly provide for an exception to individuals, is restricted to persons who forward of share candidate’s electoral campaigns only.  This means that persons who create content (i.e. write a message, post a video, etc.) are exposed to criminal liability.  Furthermore, Paragraph 8.4 does not provide any clarification on how web surfers can prove that they do not having the intention to promote or prejudice the election of candidates by forwarding or sharing such campaigns.  By dint of forwarding or sharing a candidate’s electoral campaign, one is already promoting a candidate at the expense of another.

20. The PLG is therefore of the view that as currently drafted, Proposed Guidelines Paragraph 8.3 and 8.4 amount to an unconstitutional interference with Hong Kong residents’ constitutional rights to express their political opinion and to have meaningful participation in public life.

21. Furthermore, it must be recalled that ECICO s.24 also imposes a burden on therequires all candidate to declare all electoral expenses, including those which are unauthorised and the. The failure to do so will amount to illegal conduct.  While there are statutory defences of taking reasonable care orto do so, or that such expenses were incurred without consent of the candidate, this createswill undoubtedly create unnecessary post-election period confusion and will ultimately prolongincrease the election process by encouragingpossibility of multiple election petitions and allegations of wrongdoingby aggrieved candidates.

Temporal Limitation on Political Expression

22. Furthermore, Paragraph 8.3 and 8.4 provide that the prohibition on such innocent activities begins before the election period.  The election period is defined under ECICO s.2(1) as the time beginning from the nomination day until the end of the polling.

23. The Court of Final Appeal has held that “the type of activity or matter intended to be caught by the  election expense  provisions in ECICO consists only of those activities or matters which are referable to a specific election and which take place or occur during the election period or the period of a person’s candidacy (whichever period begins earlier).” [8] (emphasis added).

24. The PLG agrees with the construction of the ECICO by the Court of Final Appeal and it is therefore clear that the temporal limitations imposed by Paragraph 8.3 before the election period is in direct contravention of the Court of Final Appeal decision, wrong as a matter of law and unconstitutional.

 

C.    Conclusion and Recommendations

25. The Legco Secretariat has already provided a comparative study of various jurisdictions who regulate the use of social media during elections.[9]  It is notable that in all the other comparative jurisdictions of the United Kingdom, New Zealand and Canada:

(1) all distinguish between individual activities and those from candidates and authorised election agents;

(2) individuals are provided with a threshold limit in the United Kingdom and exceeding that limit does not impose any burden on a candidate but only on the individual himself/herself.  No such limits are imposed in New Zealand and Canada.

26. It is the PLG’s view that the Propose Guidelines Paragraphs 8.3 and 8.4 fail to properly distinguish between activities which were intended to be caught by the ECICO and those which are legitimate activities, i.e. individual expressions of political opinion.  As held by the Court of Final Appeal, “election expenses refer precisely to those activities or matters in the conduct or management of an election by those seeking to be elected (the candidates); in other words, those activities or matters which go to the machinery of an election.” [10]

27. Furthermore, without exempting individuals and, what the statutory burden on candidates to police their supporters, it would be overly burdensome forEAC is in effect demanding of all candidates tois that they monitor and police the internet forums, social media networks and communication networks.  PLG is of the view that such a burden is disproprotionate to the aim of the ECICO and impractical to enforce against third parties to avoid unauthorised election expenseseven by the EAC itself.

28. The PLG therefore recommends the following amendments to Paragraphs 8.3 and 8.4:

(1) Individual acts of broadcasting personal expressions of political expression which may promote or prejudice a candidate should be expressly exempted from the definition of an Electoral Advertisement; and

(2) Specific references to social media as a separate measure from traditional methods of publication should be removed as they should be treated similarly (i.e. there is no principled distinction between forwarding or sharing an election campaign digitally and physically);).  If it is not an electoral advert to promote or prejudice a candidate to friends and family at a dim sum table, it should not be unlawful to do the same on a Facebook account; and

(3) The reference to “before” the election period should be removed as this suggests that pre-election period advocacy may be caught by provisions which are specific to electoral campaigning.

 

1st April 2016

The Progressive Lawyers Group

 

Statement was originally published in Stand News on 12 May 2016

法政匯思就旺角事故的聲明 (Statement in relation to the Events Overnight in Mong Kok)

【是時候鬆綁了 – 法政匯思就旺角昨夜事故的聲明】

IT’S TIME TO LOOSEN THE NOOSE AROUND HONG KONG – STATEMENT OF THE PROGRESSIVE LAWYERS GROUP IN RELATION TO THE EVENTS OVERNIGHT IN MONG KOK

1. 正如1967年發生的暴動並不只是基於新蒲崗的一場勞工糾紛或境外的政治風波,昨夜的事故之所以發生,並不只是因為有市民在節日時在繁忙的街頭賣小食,亦不只是基於任何政治運動。

2. 正如當年的港英殖民政府錯誤地把暴動歸咎於一小群政治暴徒、而不提及當時香港深層次及廣泛的社會問題是不盡不實的描述;如果要把昨夜的事故偽裝為單一的暴力事件,亦同樣是不盡不實的描述。

3. 法政匯思對於昨夜的事故感到悲傷及震驚。這城市不能容忍警察無理的暴力。同樣地,我們深信廣大市民亦不希望見到一個以暴易暴的香港。經過了悲傷的一夜後,我們呼籲香港的各方人士保持冷靜及深切反思。

4. 在1967年暴動完結後,港英殖民政府悄悄地就其高壓管治模式承認錯誤,然後採取措施去處理當時的深層次社會問題。我們在此呼籲,當下政府亦同樣地必須停止利用昨晚的事故來「玩政治」,政府並應立即解鬆其近年來在港人頸上越綁越緊的無形繩索。

法政匯思
2016年2月9日

1. Just as the riots of 1967 were more than just about a labour dispute in San Po Kong or political upheaval across the border at the time, the events overnight were more than about the selling of hawker food on a busy street during a festive season or any political movement.

2. Just as it was disingenuous of the British colonial government to blame the then riots on a small group of violent political agitators, when much deeper and wider social problems existed in Hong Kong society at the time, it would be identically disingenuous now to pretend that the events overnight was an isolated incident of violence.

3. The Progressive Lawyers Group is saddened and appalled by the events overnight. Gratuitous violence by our police force has no place in our city. Responding to violence with violence is also not the Hong Kong that ordinary folk would want to see. We therefore call for calm and studied reflection in the aftermath of such a sad night for Hong Kong.

4. In the aftermath of the 1967 protests, the British colonial government quietly accepted the errors of its oppressive ways and took steps to address root causes of social problems at the time. It is now incumbent upon our government now to stop playing politics with the events overnight and loosen the noose with which it has tightened around the people of Hong Kong in recent years.

Progressive Lawyers Group
9 February 2016

Statement was originally published in Stand News