Law on safeguarding national security in HK to respect human rights, judicial independence: HKSAR chief executive
The explanatory statement of the draft law on safeguarding national security in China's Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR) has made clear that the upcoming law will respect and protect Hong Kong residents' human rights, and Hong Kong's judicial independence will not be impacted, HKSAR Chief Executive Carrie Lam said on Tuesday.
In the explanatory statement made by an official with the Legislative Affairs Commission of the National People's Congress Standing Committee as the national legislature was reviewing the draft law last week, it was clearly stated that the law only targets four categories of crimes endangering national security and will fully respect and protect the various freedoms enjoyed by the Hong Kong residents in accordance with the Basic Law and international covenants, Lam said at a media session ahead of the HKSAR Executive Council meeting on Tuesday morning.
It was also made clear that a series of principles of the rule of law, such as no crime without the law, the presumption of innocence, protection of rights of defendants, and fair trial, will be upheld, she noted.
Stressing judicial independence as an important part of the rule of law in Hong Kong, the chief executive pointed out that judicial independence is guaranteed by multiple articles of the Basic Law, and there is no content in the explanatory statement of the draft law that contradicts these articles.
In the explanatory statement there is no mention of restrictions on the nationality of judges who will adjudicate over national security cases in Hong Kong, which demonstrates the central authorities' high respect for and full trust in Hong Kong's judiciary, Lam said, adding that she is confident that the judiciary will handle national security cases independently without interference.
Lam sternly refuted claims that the law will undermine judicial independence by allowing the HKSAR chief executive to appoint judges to handle national security cases.
Lam noted that judges of the HKSAR courts shall be appointed by the chief executive on the recommendation of an independent commission composed of local judges, persons from the legal profession and eminent persons from other sectors, adding that the appointment of judges for national security cases will follow the same procedure.
Safeguarding national security is a fundamental responsibility of the central government as well as a common obligation of all the Chinese people including Hong Kong residents, Lam said.
The law does not violate the principle of "one country, two systems," instead, it will better safeguard it, she added.