‘Things Just Seem to Get Worse’
How Beijing Is Working to Smother Hong Kong’s Rule of Legislation
Editorial cartoon appearing lately on Hong Kong social media.
By Patrick McShane
In these periodic reports, Digital Privacy Information examines the fallout associated with China’s national security legislation on Hong Kong.
For 156 yrs, before Hong Kong’s go back to Chinese control in 1997, and until last 06, the people of this city highly regarded the rule of legislation.
Now, nevertheless , Beijing appears to be determined to turn off Hong Kong’s long-held Traditional western notion of jurisprudence plus replace it with the landmass system, where all legislation is subject to control with the Chinese Communist Party (CCP).
In the nearly a year since Beijing imposed the national security law (NSL) on Hong Kong, much of this particular city’s society — from the police and civil provider system to its training sector and political methods — have fallen in order to Beijing’s control.
Despite these successes, Beijing understands that if the CCP can not get a hard handle at the city’s long-established rule associated with law, there is still a strong risk that Hongkongers may challenge its most oppressive political policies in courtroom.
Nine years ago, retiring Hk Judge Kemal Bokhary, who had been a permanent judge of Hong Kong’s Court of Last Appeal, warned that “a storm of unprecedented ferocity” was coming for Hong Kong’s rule of regulation.
That tornado has arrived.
In case Beijing succeeds in changing the city’s rule associated with law with the mainland’s program, Hong Kong citizens charged having a crime will be presumed accountable until proven innocent.
On the mainland, the particular CCP’s demand for purchase and stability overrides the particular quest for justice and equal rights before the law in cases where seems threatened.
When this occurs, China’s 72-year-old criminal proper rights system loses autonomy. The particular CCP dismisses the requirement for the rule of legislation to make room for the party’s political needs.
But this hardly is definitely new in China.
On the decades, trial judges happen to be changed in thousands of instances — even in mid-trial — with defense attorneys terminated and verdicts overturned.
Most times, defendants having to hire lawyers. And, also then, such attorneys frequently do not meet clients till the day of their cases.
In fact , on the landmass, the CCP easily handles such changes, because just about all senior judges, state prosecutors and public defenders are usually party members.
“There is nowhere fast for me to hide in this nation. ”
Ren Quanniu, Chinese attorney disbarred for representing Hong Kong democracy activists.
Under the Chinese Constitution, the particular CCP-controlled National People’s Our elected representatives has the authority to watch over the work of judges plus their courts — and also to call for the reconsideration associated with cases.
Within China, the concept of juries will not exist.
Based on the China Justice Observer, within 2019, the conviction price in the People’s Republic has been 99. 965%.
Here are some of the ways Beijing is replacing Hong Kong’s legal system with an additional closely resembling China’s.
Judges because Civil Servants
On the Chinese landmass, most of the population understands — and accepts — that will judges are regarded from the central government as older civil servants, whose initial duty is to the government alone, not necessarily to the letter from the law.
At this point, however , under the national protection law, Beijing is pressuring Hong Kong’s legal program to accept this concept, hence aligning the city’s program with the mainland’s legal norms.
This fact was confirmed two weeks back, when Yang Zhen-wu, admin general of the National People’s Congress Standing Committee (NPCSC), briefed judges visiting through Hong Kong.
Yang told Hong Kong’s Chief Justice Toby Cheung that he hoped the particular Hong Kong justices had “an accurate understanding” of the Chinese language constitution and other legal paperwork drawn up by the central govt, according to news reports.
Yang also informed the group that Hong Kong’s judges were expected completely to enforce the concept of “patriots governing Hong Kong” and also to “exercise a vital judicial function” to safeguard national sovereignty plus security.
Phil Chan, a U. Nited kingdom. human rights law college student, told Hong Kong’s Southern China Morning Post: “The visit by (Hong Kong’s) chief justice and the comments by the NPCSC’s secretary common illustrate the subservient part of Hong Kong’s judiciary in China’s vision because of its new governance of the town. ”
Trials Without Juries
Prior to the NSL being imposed on 06 30, most criminal situations in Hong Kong were court trials.
Nevertheless , since then, most pro-democracy followers accused of breaching the particular NSL have been denied tests by jury.
This includes Tong Ying-kit, twenty-four, who became the city’s first national security accused on July 1 .
In handing over the no-jury ruling, Hong Kong Assess Alex Lee — among the jurists designated by the federal government to handle special NSL instances — said that, unlike within the U. K., an accused did not have a right to possess his case tried with a jury.
“If the trial is to be carried out with a jury, ” Shelter added, according to news reviews, “there is a real risk the fact that due administration of proper rights might be impaired. ”
In February, Hong Kong’s pro-Beijing justice admin, Teresa Cheng, told Tong’s defense team that the girl department planned to try your pet without a jury.
She cited fears for that “personal safety” of jurors and their families.
Instead, his case is going to be tried June 23 simply by three appointed NSL idol judges. Tong has been held within jail since July 2020.
Before final June, the case would have already been heard by a judge plus seven to nine jurors.
However , Cheng invoked Article 46 from the NSL. It states which the secretary can command that the national security case end up being heard without a jury if this involves state secrets or even foreign forces.
Aside from being refused an endeavor by jury, Judge Shelter rejected Tong’s bail, deeming him a “flight risk” and a “risk of re-offending. ”
The particular specifics of Lee’s bottom line later were redacted within the judge’s decision.
Tong is accused associated with knocking down three law enforcement officers, while riding his motorbike, on July 1 — the day the NSL had taken effect. He also apparently waved a protest banner with the slogan, “Liberate Hk, revolution of our times. ”
If found guilty of terrorism and incitement to commit secession, Tong could face life within prison.
No Bail designed for Political Crimes
In societies all over the world, wherever the rule associated with law exists, courts consistently grant bail to the arrested — in the belief that will defendants are innocent till proven guilty in courtroom.
The only causes of bail being withheld had been if a court deemed the particular accused a possible danger towards the community, or to themselves.
This has been the situation in Hong Kong for one hundred and eighty years, until June thirty, when the NSL was introduced.
Since then, the particular special NSL division from the Hong Kong Police has imprisoned slightly more than 100 individuals.
Thus far, 57 have been charged, with the overpowering majority being pro-democracy congress or young activists.
Most remain in prison, pending trial. They are the publisher of the pro-democracy Apple company Daily newspaper, Jimmy Lai, 72.
Numerous Hongkongers believe the picky application of the law serves simply no purpose, except to intentionally intimidate the public.
In some cases, denial of bail — even for short periods, for humanitarian reasons — verges on rudeness.
Former Democratic Party lawmaker Wu Chi-wai is being held in guardianship. He awaits three individual trials, charged under the NSL.
Last 30 days, the 58-year-old Wu questioned permission to attend his father’s funeral.
Wu, an only son, also offered to be handcuffed and also to wear his prison clothes and was prepared to remain for just five minutes.
However , after a risk evaluation, Hong Kong’s Correctional Providers Department told him this had rejected the application — citing the need to protect the particular safety of the correctional officials, the person in custody plus members of the public.
Pro-government politician Gary Chan, which oversees the Legislative Council’s security panel, approved the particular ruling.
“You have to take into account that Wu is accused of probably breaching the national protection law, ” Chan mentioned.
The correctional services department said this did not keep records showing how many such applications had been approved — but a minumum of one convicted murderer previously have been allowed to attend his parent’s funeral, according to news reviews.
After general public outrage, authorities eventually relented — allowing Wu to go to the May 8 funeral service, under close watch simply by officers before being came back to prison.
Disbarring Lawyers Who Escape Beijing
In mainland China, it really is almost routine for attorneys who actively defend dissidents be disbarred. The most recent situation involves mainland Chinese lawyers Lu Siwei, and Ren Quanniu.
These were disbarred earlier this year when they decided to handle the cases of the dozen Hong Kong democracy active supporters and workers who were jailed after becoming caught while trying to run away the city in a boat certain for Taiwan.
Speaking to Radio Free Asian countries in February, Ren mentioned the decision to strip your pet of his license acquired left him with no illusions about the current political program.
“Before I had been suspended, I still clung to some illusions about the condition judicial system, ” Ren said in the Feb. fifteen interview. “That they cared for about facts and about legislation.
“But there is certainly nowhere for me to hide in this particular country, ” he carried on. “Things just seem to become worse. ”
Right now Beijing appears to be introducing an identical policy in Hong Kong for virtually every local attorney who defies Beijing’s plans.
Two of the city’s looked upon lawyers, Martin Lee plus Margaret Ng, have had their particular law licenses threatened once they were convicted of arranging a peaceful but illegal assembly in 2019.
Early this year, the particular 82-year-old Lee was selected for the Nobel Peace Reward. The winner is anticipated to be announced in Oct.
Club Association Under Fire
In 06 2019, some 3, 500 lawyers, many of them members from the Hong Kong Law Society, marched in the suffocating summer warmth.
They were getting involved in a silent protest contrary to the government’s controversial extradition costs, which would allow Beijing to test Hong Kong residents inside landmass courts.
Fast-forward a year: Beijing has required the removal of the chairman from the 72-year-old Hong Kong Bar Organization.
The head of the one, 500-strong professional body, British-born Paul Harris, suggested associated with getting “the Hong Kong authorities to agree to some modifications” to the NSL.
“If there are. issues with the (bar) association not really acting in accordance with Hong Kong legislation, then of course the government is going to be called into action. ”
Hong Kong Leader Carrie Lam.
Calling Harris, that has lived in Hong Kong pertaining to 28 years, “an anti-China politician, ” the Chinese language Liaison Office in Hk warned of consequences when the association did not replace your pet.
While many from the members reportedly are thought to support the Oxford-educated Harris, others are just as fearful associated with not placating Beijing’s needs.
Hong Kong Leader Carrie Lam said within April that her management saw no role within the bar association’s affairs, yet she warned: “If you will find … complaints about the organization not acting in accordance with Hk law, then of course the federal government will be called into motion. ”
Patrick McShane is an in long run resident of Asia.
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