Two British judges sitting in Hong Kong resign over national security law

Two British judges sitting in Hong Kong resign over national security law

The two British Supreme Court justices sitting at Hong Kong’s highest court on Wednesday, March 30, resigned. The British government controls their position ‘Undefensible’ Because of the national security law imposed by China on the former colony of the United Kingdom.

The decision, which calls into question provisions dating back to the territory’s return to China, comes in response to the crackdown that has taken place since the 2020 pro-democracy movement. “I have concluded, in agreement with the government, that Supreme Court justices cannot continue to sit in Hong Kong without appearing to support an administration that has departed from the values ​​of political freedom and freedom of expression.”Chief Justice Robert Reed said, announcing his departure and that of Vice President Patrick Hodge, ” with immediate effect “ to the Court of Final Appeal in Hong Kong.

China said on Wednesday “deeply sorry” UK decision. “By playing the foreign judges’ card, [Londres] Attempts to discredit China’s policies towards Hong Kong and discredit the development of the rule of law in Hong Kong”, estimated the Office of the Commissioner representing the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs in the territory. For former local government leader Yong Chun-ying, the decision of the Supreme Court judges is “Despicable”. “An indelible stain on the independence of the British judicial system”he added on Facebook, thinking London has “Power” to resign.

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“The situation has reached a critical point.”

The UK Supreme Court had previously expressed concerns about National Security Law when it came into effect. Promulgated at the end of June 2020 after a wave of demonstrations for freedoms in Hong Kong, this law provides for the punishment of separatist activities, “terrorists”Or sabotage or even foreign interference in the Chinese Autonomous Territory.

We have witnessed the systematic erosion of freedom and democracy in Hong Kong. Since the imposition of the National Security Law, the authorities have cracked down on freedom of expression, freedom of the press, and freedom of association.”The British Foreign Secretary, Liz Truss, denounced communication sporadic. “The situation has reached a crisis point, as British judges can no longer sit in the main court in Hong Kong, at the risk of legitimizing persecution”she added.

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His oath did not say whether the other UK judges intended to step down, but said he is “The British government is increasingly untenable [les] in order to support.

A blow to the region’s reputation

Hong Kong Watch, a UK-based non-governmental organization (NGO), hopes other foreign judges will go “to follow suit” for senior judges. Their resignation bears with it ” a hit “ to the Hong Kong authorities and “reputation” From the lands brought by the judges ‘Crust of respect’One of its managers, Johnny Patterson, told AFP.

A spokesman for one of the other British non-permanent judges in Hong Kong, Leonard Hoffman, said the latter did “take note” The resignation of the Supreme Court justices and that he will take it into account in his decision. For Eric Lai, a specialist in the Hong Kong judicial system at the American University in Georgetown, this is not the case “There is no doubt that the remaining judges will reconsider their position (…) In light of the ongoing political repression in Hong Kong”.

‘despicable’ decision

The British government had denounced the National Security Act as a ‘obvious violation’ to the self-rule enjoyed by its former colony, and decided in response to expand immigration rights, and eventually British citizenship, to many of the territory’s residents.

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“We support the people of Hong Kong and the principles of freedom and democracy as promised in the joint statement.” signed in 1984, “And we will continue to raise our concerns directly with the authorities in Hong Kong and China if they are not respected.”The Consul General of the United Kingdom in Hong Kong, Brian Davidson, said on Twitter.

According to the agreement providing for the return of this former British colony to China in 1997, British judges participate in the Hong Kong Court of Final Appeal, which is the highest court in Hong Kong. There are also retired judges from the UK, Australia or Canada.

Altogether, eight of the twelve non-permanent foreign judges are British, including the justices of the Supreme Court.

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The world with AFP

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