PLG member Alvin Cheung writes: "The independence and relevance of Hong Kong’s judiciary may now be in doubt [...] Interventions from Beijing are likely to dictate outcomes to Hong Kong’s courts not only in cases directly involving political rights, but also cases that involve major policy initiatives such as public infrastructure projects."
A fringe pro-independence party and a historic journalists’ club have been thrust into the forefront of the intensifying battle over free speech and the rule of law in Hong Kong, a semi- autonomous Chinese territory that has long prided itself on its civic freedoms.
Thirty-eight civil society groups (including the Progressive Lawyers Group) and political parties have urged the Hong Kong government to withdraw a national anthem bill, arguing that it violates citizens’ rights to fundamental freedoms.
Law is being used to silence the democracy movement in Hong Kong.
One in three pro-democracy legislators has been prosecuted by the government since the Umbrella Movement of 2014. More than 100 democracy activists and protestors have been prosecuted. The secretary of justice has constantly sought to maximize sentencing, slapping years of jail time on young students and digging up obscure, outdated charges – designed for 19th century Britain, not 21st century Hong Kong – to increase the time that pro-democracy figures spend in jail.
Progressive Lawyers’ Group has once again voiced its concern over the controversial joint checkpoint arrangement for the high speed rail link, saying that it remains unconvinced by the government’s legal justification.
On Wednesday, China’s top legislature – the Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress (NPCSC) – approved the plan following a unanimous vote and months of controversy. Hong Kong will effectively surrender its jurisdiction across a quarter of the new West Kowloon terminus, where immigration procedures will be performed by mainland law enforcement agents. Beijing’s “distortion” of the Basic Law in justifying the Express Rail Link’s joint checkpoint arrangement has greatly undermined Hong Kong’s rule of law, legal experts have warned.
//一直以來，中央和香港政府對香港人的民意置若罔聞，香港人積累不滿只是自然而然。香港球迷「噓」國歌，只是屬於皮毛的表象而已。國家不尊重人民，人民又如何尊重國家？以法律強逼人民愛國，就像北風要吹走人的外衣一樣，只會把人趕跑。// - 方翊 @ 法政巴絲
Amid calls from Hong Kong’s pro-Beijing elite for sweeping new national security laws, government advisers and lawyers say the legislation is likely to be tougher than proposals shelved 14 years ago, raising fears about the city’s cherished freedoms.
Those demanding urgency for the long-delayed Article 23 are using a fledgling independence movement in the former British colony as justification – even though the independence debate would have been allowed when Article 23 was first proposed in 2003.
Lawyers, diplomats and activists fear the new pressure could lead to legal “overkill” in an open city already struggling with increased interference from Beijing’s Communist Party rulers.
Secretary for Transport and Housing Frank Chan Fan said the government has been doing its best to make the co-location deal between Hong Kong and mainland China as transparent as possible.
He dismissed criticism that the co-location arrangement is a “black box” operation, the Hong Kong Economic Journal reports. Barrister Chris Ng Chung-luen, a spokesperson for the Progressive Lawyers Group, said Hong Kong courts might refuse to accept any challenge against the plan once it is approved and endorsed by the NPCSC, to the detriment of ”one country, two systems”.
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。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。就政府方案如何違反《基本法》的詳細分析，詳見中文版完整陳述書。(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. 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. For the detailed analysis of how the Government's proposal violates the Basic Law, please read further.)
法政匯思就政府建議高鐵香港段實施一地兩檢為大家準備了常見問題解答，以供參考。(Progressive Lawyers Group has prepared a list of FAQs on the Government's proposal on co-location arrangement at the West Kowloon Terminus. Please take a look!)
It is the third concern group to be set up on the issue as both sides of Hong Kong’s political divide mobilise campaigns for and against the proposal for joint immigration and customs checks in the city. Kevin Yam Kin-fung, convenor of the Progressive Lawyers Group, said the Hong Kong government’s decision to use Article 20 of the Basic Law to lease land to mainland authorities could set a dangerous precedent.
(Progressive Lawyers Group member Chris Ng attended the Co-location Concern Group‘s inaugural press conference today. The Concern Group is set up by pro-democracy lawmakers, professionals, academics, civic organisations and student bodies.)
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.