New Hong Kong security law an “unconscionable” threat to judicial independence, says IBA

The imposition of the law could lead to violations of the ‘one country, two systems’ rule

New Hong Kong security law an “unconscionable” threat to judicial independence, says IBA

The International Bar Association (IBA) has condemned the new Hong Kong security law passed through by the National People’s Congress in Beijing yesterday.

The Law Society Gazette reported that congress had approved a “draft decision on establishing and improving the legal system and enforcement mechanisms for the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region to safeguard national security.” A total of 2,878 deputies from all over China voted in favour of the proposed legislation, with one opposing. Six deputies abstained from voting on the matter.

“This threat to judicial independence is unconscionable,” IBA President Horacio Bernades Neto and IBA Human Rights Institute (IBAHRI) director Helena Kennedy QC said in a joint statement.

The association said that this step would lead to Beijing imposing on Hong Kong from a legal standpoint, violating the “one country, two systems” rule under which the latter has been operating since 1997.

“We are concerned that the central and city government security agencies will establish a presence in Hong Kong under the guise of national security, and that Hong Kong’s foreign judges, who sit on the Court of Final Appeal to ensure international standards are met, will no longer be allowed to adjudicate on cases of national security,” Neto and Kennedy said.

The IBA and IBAHRI expressed concern that the proposed law was a move to further restrict the rights of peaceful protestors, directly contravening “obligations to uphold rights under the Basic Law and International Human Rights Law, including Article 27 of the Basic Law which grants Hong Kong residents the ‘freedom of speech, of the press and of publication; freedom of association and of demonstration’,” the association said.

US, UK, Australian and Canadian governments have also expressed their disagreement with Beijing’s decision, noting that the implementation of the security law would disregard Hong Kong’s autonomy since there was no direct input from the country’s legislative body, judiciary or people.

“No reasonable person can assert today that Hong Kong maintains a high degree of autonomy from China, given facts on the ground,” US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said.

Pompeo said that the move would also threaten Hong Kong’s special trading status.

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