Published: 02:04, June 24, 2020 | Updated: 23:52, June 5, 2023
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CE: Hong Kong’s judicial independence not affected
By Gang Wen

Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor stressed on Tuesday that the proposed national security law won’t impair the special administrative region’s judicial independence and high degree of autonomy.

Addressing the media before the weekly Executive Council meeting, she said the draft law has not conferred on her the power to appoint a specific judge for any particular national security case. It will be up to the judiciary to decide, as usual, Lam said.

According to the draft law, the chief executive has the power to choose a group of judges to adjudicate national security cases.

There are many foreign judges in the city’s judiciary and there are no particular restrictions on judges being designated by the chief executive to adjudicate national security cases, Lam said.

In many countries, foreign judges are not allowed to sit on the bench, let alone deal with national security-related cases, she said.

“The draft national security law for Hong Kong makes no mention of the issue of the judges’ nationalities. I believe it embodies the central government’s high degree of respect and trust in the city’s judicial system.”

Lam rebutted the suggestion that the practice of the chief executive choosing judges will interfere with Hong Kong’s judicial independence since the chief executive is the leader of the administrative body as well as the head of the SAR.

It’s a common practice to designate a group of judges over certain types of cases not just in Hong Kong but in many other places around the globe, she said. This doesn’t impair the SAR’s judicial independence, she said, calling those who oppose the idea ignorant.

Lam stressed that SAR judges are appointed on the basis of their judicial and professional qualities, and she has full trust and confidence in each of them should they be appointed to adjudicate national security cases.

She also reiterated that the proposed national security legislation doesn’t violate the “one country, two systems” principle or the Basic Law.

It is to improve relevant systems and mechanisms to better safeguard “one country” under the “one country, two systems” principle, Lam said. If “one country” is undermined by people who try to endanger national security, the foundation of “two systems” will also be shaken, she added.

Those who still think the legislation is undermining “one country, two systems” are people who never truly accepted or respected the concept of “one country”, Lam said.