Published: 11:00, March 31, 2022 | Updated: 10:58, April 1, 2022
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UK allegations against NSL firmly opposed
By Wang Zhan and Gang Wen in hong kong

Political pressure leads to British judges’ resignation from HK court

This file photo taken on June 29, 2020 shows a billboard promoting the Law of the People's Republic of China on Safeguarding National Security in Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR) in the Central district in Hong Kong. (WANG SHEN / XINHUA)

The Hong Kong Special Administrative Region government on Wednesday said it strongly opposed unfounded allegations by the Parliament of the United Kingdom against the National Security Law for Hong Kong and the city’s legal system.

In a statement issued on Wednesday evening, a spokesman for the HKSAR government said it was “appalling” to see that some UK politicians have deliberately vilified the national security law and Hong Kong’s legal system by applying double standards and making baseless allegations.

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“Every country around the world would take threats to its national security extremely seriously. China is no different,” the spokesman said.

The promulgation of the NSL is in line with the international practice of safeguarding national security and the exercise of the sovereign rights of our country.

Spokesman for the HKSAR government

“The promulgation of the NSL is in line with the international practice of safeguarding national security and the exercise of the sovereign rights of our country,” he added. “We take strong exception to the absurd and misleading accusations against the NSL and our legal system.”

The spokesman noted that the fact there was a debate in the UK Parliament on the role of British and overseas judges in Hong Kong on Wednesday may have influenced the resignation of the two serving UK judges from the Court of Final Appeal.

“This is clear evidence of external political pressure on judges of an otherwise independent judiciary,” the spokesman said.

“This will not be tolerated and will not happen in Hong Kong with the guarantee under Article 85 of the Basic Law which provides that the courts of the HKSAR shall exercise judicial power independently, free from any interference.”

Judicial independence in Hong Kong after the implementation of the NSL remains as robust as ever, the spokesman said, adding that the independence of the judiciary is constitutionally guaranteed under the Basic Law.

He said that while Hong Kong welcomes eminent judges from other common law jurisdictions to serve as non-permanent judges, their departure will not in any way affect the city’s judicial independence.

The spokesman also refuted criticisms of Hong Kong’s extraterritoriality, saying that the allegations are tainted with double standards.

“Extraterritoriality is a common feature of national security laws in many countries. The extraterritorial effect provided for in the NSL aligns with the principles of international law and international practice.

“Any attempt to undermine our judicial independence through baseless allegations is futile,” the spokesman noted.

In a written reply to China Daily, Grenville Cross, senior counsel and former director of public prosecutions of the Hong Kong SAR, said UK Parliament’s move was “a great pity, and a big loss, but not a total surprise”. He said the British politicians who have been pressuring the judges to quit over the last years also played a big part in the British government’s other hostile measures to hurt Hong Kong. 

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Cross believes political pressure will undoubtedly be applied to the 10 other overseas judges on the Court of Final Appeal in Hong Kong, and such pressure could be extreme. “The remaining 10 overseas judges are all retired and it will be easier for them to resist the pressure. And as they are all people of courage and principle, we must hope they can do so,” Cross said.

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