Published: 17:05, May 12, 2022 | Updated: 22:59, May 12, 2022
DoJ, Bar Association slam US lawmakers' sanctions call
By Oasis Hu in Hong Kong

China's national flag (five-star red flag) and the flag of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region are seen flying on a street in Hong Kong, Oct 1, 2021. (PHOTO / XINHUA)

Hong Kong’s Department of Justice and the Hong Kong Bar Association on Thursday condemned seven US lawmakers’ call for Washington to impose sanctions on national security judges and prosecutors in Hong Kong.

Both said they deplore any attempts to interfere in the operation of Hong Kong’s independent judiciary.

On May 3, seven members of the US House of Representatives wrote to US President Joe Biden, urging his administration to impose sanctions on judges designated for trials of national security cases and prosecutors for what the lawmakers said was Beijing’s failure to meet its obligations under the Sino-British Joint Declaration and for its implementing the National Security Law for Hong Kong. All seven lawmakers are members of the Republican Party.

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The principle of nonintervention is an important concept central to sovereign equality, which is a fundamental principle of international law.

Department of Justice, Hong Kong

The Department of Justice said it deplores the blatant calls for sanctions against officials, judicial officers, and prosecutors of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region in an attempt to interfere with legal proceedings. It also said that the principle of nonintervention is an important concept central to sovereign equality, which is a fundamental principle of international law.

“Any state (that) unilaterally imposes coercive measures on other government officials or individuals with a view to interfering with the internal affairs or exercise of the sovereign power of another state is (acting) contrary to international law and the UN framework, and most importantly violates the principle of nonintervention under international law,” the DoJ told China Daily.

It added that Article 63 of the Basic Law guarantees that the prosecutions are free from interference, and its officers will continue to carry out their duties in a professional manner without fear or favor.

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The Hong Kong Bar Association, Hong Kong’s professional body for barristers, deplored and condemned the move by the US lawmakers “in its strongest terms,” saying that there can be no question about the integrity and independence of Hong Kong judges, whose selection, appointment and discharge of their constitutional role and duties are free from any political considerations and interference.

It is of fundamental importance to the rule of law in Hong Kong and elsewhere that the judiciary, judges, and judicial officers are allowed to operate and exercise their judicial power independently and free from any interference, the bar said in a statement.

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The bar stressed that lawyers should not be subject to “illegitimate pressure” when defending or prosecuting, saying this would constitute interference in the proper administration of justice and the right to legal representation.