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Published: 14:43, November 29, 2022 | Updated: 22:49, November 29, 2022
NPCSC interpretation 'won't affect HK judicial independence'
By William Xu
Published:14:43, November 29, 2022 Updated:22:49, November 29, 2022 By William Xu

Victor Dawes, Chairman of Hong Kong Bar Association (center), speaks to members of the media at the office of the association in Admiralty on Nov 29, 2022. (CALVIN NG / CHINA DAILY)

The chairman of the Hong Kong Bar Association said the Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress (NPCSC) has the authority to interpret the National Security Law for Hong Kong, and the move will not undermine Hong Kong’s judicial independence.

On Monday, Hong Kong Chief Executive John Lee Ka-chiu requested the NPCSC issue an interpretation in accordance with Article 65 of the National Security Law, in a bid to clarify whether overseas lawyers who are not qualified to “practice generally” in Hong Kong should be allowed to engage in national security cases in the city

In a meeting with reporters on Tuesday, Victor Dawes also said that according to the National Security Law, the power of interpretation of the NSL is vested in the NPCSC. He added that the issue has been handled according to the city’s current legal mechanism.

ALSO READ: SAR asks NPCSC to interpret national security law

On Monday, Hong Kong Chief Executive John Lee Ka-chiu requested the NPCSC issue an interpretation in accordance with Article 65 of the National Security Law, in a bid to clarify whether overseas lawyers who are not qualified to “practice generally” in Hong Kong should be allowed to engage in national security cases in the city.

Lee’s move followed the Court of Final Appeal’s decision the same day to allow British King’s Counsel Timothy Owen to defend Jimmy Lai Chee-ying in Lai’s national security case. Lai faces charges that include collusion with foreign forces to endanger national security.

ALSO READ: CE to request NPCSC to interpret National Security Law

Dawes said that from his point of view, hiring an overseas barrister would not help Lai’s case much, as Lai has already formed a team of experienced lawyers to defend him.

Victor Dawes, Chairman of Hong Kong Bar Association (center), speaks to members of the media at the office of the association in Admiralty on Nov 29, 2022. (CALVIN NG / CHINA DAILY)

Dawes said he believes the NPCSC’s interpretation will not affect Lai’s right of hiring professional legal experts in Hong Kong.

ALSO READ: 'NPCSC interpretation to clarify NSL intent, plug loopholes'

The Court of Final Appeal has demonstrated in its judgment that it is fully committed to safeguarding national security. The Bar Association believes that Hong Kong’s courts and legal sector will continue to carry on its mission of protecting national security and upholding the rule of law, Dawes said.

 


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