HONG KONG - The enactment of the National Security Law in Hong Kong is in line with the international practice of safeguarding national security and the sovereign rights of each state, the Department of Justice said Wednesday.
In a statement issued on Wednesday night, the DOJ said Hong Kong's legal system and rule of law remain robust with law and order restored, enabling residents to enjoy their rights and freedoms in a safe and peaceful environment.
The DOJ made the statement in response to remarks by United Nations special rapporteurs on the NSL.
The DOJ said the security law clearly stipulates that the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region shall protect the rights and freedoms enjoyed by residents under the Basic Law and the provisions of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights.
The Department of Justice said Hong Kong's legal system and rule of law remain robust with law and order restored, enabling residents to enjoy their rights and freedoms in a safe and peaceful environment
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“However, such rights and freedoms are not absolute. It must be borne in mind that the ICCPR expressly states that they may be subject to restrictions as prescribed by law that are necessary for protection of national security, public safety, public order or the rights and freedoms of others, and more,” the DOJ said.
In handling cases concerning offenses endangering national security, DOJ prosecutors must act in accordance with the NSL and local law, it added.
The DOJ said all prosecutorial decisions are based on admissible evidence and applicable laws and cases will never be handled any differently owing to the political beliefs or background of the persons involved.
“Prosecutions would be instituted only if there is sufficient admissible evidence to support a reasonable prospect of conviction and if it is in the public interest to do so,” the DOJ said.
The DoJ added that it has been carrying out this constitutional duty in a professional and fair manner, with Article 63 of the Basic Law expressly guaranteeing that all prosecutions are controlled by the DOJ, free from any interference.
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“When adjudicating cases under the NSL, as in any other case, judges remain independent and impartial in performing their judicial duties, free from any interference,” the DOJ said.
It noted that the Court of Final Appeal has already laid down relevant principles in a judgment on February 9 on how to handle applications for bail by persons charged with offenses endangering national security.
The Basic Law, the NSL and provisions of the ICCPR as applied to Hong Kong guarantee defendants' right to a fair trial, the DOJ said.
“As a matter of fact, in the first trial of offenses contrary to the NSL in the Court of First Instance of the High Court, the defendant's legal representatives accepted that the defendant would still have a fair trial before a panel of three judges without a jury,” it said
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No one should comment on cases in respect of which legal proceedings are still ongoing as the matter is sub judice, it added.
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