Liverpool Law Society (LLS) has this week expressed concern to the Hong Kong authorities at the adoption of the new national security law by the Standing Committee of the Chinese National People’s Congress.
There are many aspects of the national security law that are particularly worrying to members of LLS. The national security law carries maximum sentences of life imprisonment for the crimes of secession, subversion, terrorism, and collusion with foreign powers. These crimes are vaguely defined, especially the crime of terrorism, which has an overly broad definition.
LLS members are especially concerned that the national security law threatens judicial independence in Hong Kong through a number of provisions. Cases under the law may only be heard by judges who are on a list designated by the chief executive of Hong Kong. Judges can be removed from that list if their actions or statements are deemed to endanger national security. This not only allows for undue political interference with the judiciary in Hong Kong but also violates the principle that judges should have tenure as a means to guarantee their independence.
In a joint letter written to Chinese Ambassador and CEO of Hong Kong, LLS President Julie O’Hare and Parliamentary Officer Jeremy Myers, said “LLS deplores any purported attempt by the Peoples Republic of China to amend the basic law of Hong Kong which came into force on 1 July 1997 and which it notes is to apply for fifty years pursuant to the Joint Declaration signed by the UK and the PRC on 19 December 1984”.
The letter goes on to say that “legal practitioners around the world will have greater faith in the PRC, and respect for the PRC and its administration in Hong Kong, if the PRC is seen to comply with the original Basic Law and the Joint Declaration”.
Liverpool Law Society will continue to monitor the application of this law in practice, especially to members of the legal profession and human rights defenders, as well as threats to judicial independence in Hong Kong.
View the letters below
View the letter to PRC Ambassador here
View the letter to CEO of Hong Kong here
View the letter from the Bar Council and The Law Society here