Govt opposes EU report

The Hong Kong Special Administrative Region Government today expressed strong opposition to the remarks in the report on Hong Kong issued by the European Commission and the High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs & Security Policy.   The Hong Kong SAR Government said it takes great exceptions to the biased and ungrounded political smearing against the Hong Kong National Security Law.   It noted national security is a matter within the purview of the central authorities. It is the legitimate right and duty of every state to safeguard its national security. Be it adopting a unitary or federal system, legislation on national security is invariably carried out by the central authorities rather than local government.   Enacting laws on national security with extraterritorial effect is also squarely in line with international practice. In many countries, laws regarding national security have extraterritorial effect.   It pointed out that the European Commission is demonstrating their obvious double standards against the Hong Kong SAR.   The Hong Kong SAR Government said it is untrue and biased to say that the National Security Law has had a chilling effect on the exercise of rights and freedoms in the city.   The National Security Law clearly stipulates that the Hong Kong SAR shall protect the rights and freedoms enjoyed by residents under the Basic Law, and International Covenant on Civil & Political Rights, as well as the International Covenant on Economic, Social & Cultural Rights as applied to Hong Kong in accordance with the law.   The four categories of offences of endangering national security which the National Security Law provides are narrowly defined with the elements, the penalties, mitigation factors and other consequences of the offences clearly prescribed. Law-abiding people will not unwittingly violate the law.   It should however be pointed out that no one is above the law. Any acts, regardless of whether the relevant rights have been exercised, if violence is involved or the law has been violated, will have gone beyond the constitutionally guaranteed bounds.   The Hong Kong SAR Government said it should not let politics override justice. Political pluralism does not mean attempts to seriously undermine the performance of government duties and functions can be made. The arrests made by Police are based on evidence and strictly according to the laws in force.   It emphasised that no one has any privilege to break the law without facing legal consequences.   Police have a statutory duty to maintain public safety and public order and a set of stringent guidelines on the use of force consistent with international human rights norms and standards.   Since the National Security Law’s implementation, stability has been restored to society and national security has been safeguarded in the Hong Kong SAR.   The report called into question China's willingness to uphold the “one country, two systems” principle. The Hong Kong SAR Government said this is a groundless accusation.   Hong Kong SAR is an inalienable part of the People's Republic of China (PRC), a local administrative region that enjoys a high degree of autonomy under “one country, two systems” and comes directly under the Central People's Government (CPG).   To uphold and implement the principle of “one country, two systems” meets the interests of the Hong Kong people, responds to the needs of maintaining Hong Kong's prosperity and stability and serves the fundamental interests of the nation. The CPG has time and again made it clear that it will unswervingly implement the policy of “one country, two systems”.   On the postponement of the General Election of the Legislative Council, the people’s health and well-being are the overriding concern of any responsible government. The Hong Kong SAR Government has repeatedly stressed that the postponement of the 2020 LegCo General Election is entirely based on public health grounds.   According to the decision made by the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress (NPCSC) on August 11, 2020, the sixth-term LegCo of the Hong Kong SAR will continue to discharge its duties for no less than one year until the commencement of the seventh-term LegCo. The decision also states clearly that the seventh-term LegCo will have a term of four years after it has been formed in accordance with the law.   The Hong Kong SAR Government also disagreed with the report's claim that the decision to disqualify four LegCo members undermined Hong Kong's high degree of autonomy and the protection of fundamental rights and freedoms.   The NPCSC's decision on the qualification of LegCo members of the Hong Kong SAR on November 11, 2020, clearly establishes that a LegCo member does not fulfil the legal requirements and conditions on upholding the Basic Law and pledging allegiance to the Hong Kong SAR if the member advocates or supports Hong Kong independence, refuses to recognise the PRC’s sovereignty over Hong Kong and the exercise of the sovereignty, solicits intervention by foreign or external forces in the Hong Kong SAR's affairs, or carries out other activities endangering national security.   The decision is applicable to the members of the sixth-term LegCo whose nominations were decided to be invalid in accordance with law by the Hong Kong SAR during the nomination period of the election for the seventh-term LegCo originally scheduled for September 6, 2020.    The report also expressed concerns about the unfounded accusations of bias against courts. It is enshrined under the Basic Law that the courts of the Hong Kong SAR can exercise independent judicial power, including that of final adjudication, free from any interference.   The Basic Law clearly stipulates that judges and other members of the judiciary of the Hong Kong SAR shall be chosen on the basis of their judicial and professional qualities. The constitutional duty of judges, in the exercise of their judicial power, is to apply the law and nothing else. Such duty does not change when judges decide cases arising from or involving political controversies.   Additionally, the report expressed doubts about certain prosecutorial decisions. The Hong Kong SAR Government stressed that no one should interfere with the independent prosecutorial decisions which are based on an objective assessment of all admissible evidence, applicable laws and the Prosecution Code, without political considerations.   The Basic Law stipulates that prosecutions in the Hong Kong SAR are made by the Department of Justice, free from any interference. Prosecutions would only commence if there is sufficient admissible evidence to support a reasonable prospect of conviction.
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