Lawyer Michael Fisher wrote one of the major university textbooks of Hong Kong’s legal system in 2019, but it is outdated.
Last year, China implemented a national security law on the territory under which a former student who had taught at the University of Hong Kong for many years has been arrested.
“I just released it [the book] Two years ago, it now needs to be completely rewritten,” Fisher said.
The promulgation of the National Security Law heralds Destructive change After the anti-government protests in 2019, Hong Kong’s politics and civil society aimed to suppress dissent and bring Hong Kong and the mainland closer together.
Many Hong Kong business people still believe that these changes will Forgiveness Territorial CourtThey are based on the British common law legal system and are regarded as an indispensable part of the role of cities as international financial centers.
But one year later, analysts said that this law was quickly introduced Breach of legal norms In cities, for example, the presumption of innocence and the right to bail in cases involving security laws. Judges have also been shown to have little influence on these cases.
Breaking through the rubber stamp parliament in Beijing and imposing it on Hong Kong, the law breaks the firewall that separates the Hong Kong legal system from the mainland Chinese legal system, allowing suspects Tried the border first.
Its vaguely defined crimes, including subversion and collusion with foreign forces, carry a maximum penalty of life imprisonment. Critics say it threatens the freedoms guaranteed by Hong Kong when it was handed over from the UK to China in 1997. Those charged under the law fear that they may not get a fair trial.
“The minimum rate for a lawyer per day is 75,000 Hong Kong dollars (US$9,655),” the spouse of a politician who was refused bail under the law told the Financial Times, explaining that the couple had not decided on the lawyer’s decision in the coming situation. the reason. The date of the hearing. “[But] In any case, this will not have any impact, because the case is entirely political. “
According to the Hong Kong Security Bureau, a total of 117 people were arrested in accordance with the law, including a 15-year-old boy, and 64 people have been prosecuted. Many people were refused bail.
Another breakthrough from the city’s common law tradition is that a judge recently ruled in a security law case that there is no constitutional right to trial by jury.
The security law case has not yet been closed, but legal experts said that the preliminary ruling showed that the judiciary only has so much power to mediate its impact.
“The National Security Law clearly states that it has an overriding status,” said Ling Bing, a Chinese legal expert at the University of Sydney.
Chinese state media and officials, once unheard of, are also increasingly commenting on Hong Kong legal cases.
In December last year, a judge briefly released the democratic media tycoon Li Zhiying on bail. The Chinese official media threatened that if the Hong Kong judiciary could not “properly” handle the case, the mainland court would take over. After the appeal, Lai’s bail was revoked.He has Since being imprisoned Charged separately in Hong Kong.
Analysts said that excessive police enforcement has also put pressure on the legal system. Last week, a 37-year-old man was arrested on suspicion of posting stickers supporting protests outside his home.
“Many acts that were not considered criminal before, especially certain forms of political expression, are now illegal,” said Ryan Mitchell, a legal scholar at the Chinese University of Hong Kong.
In September last year, concerns about the independence of the legal system intensified, when the city’s leader Carrie Lam and a senior judge retorted that there was no separation of powers between the administration, legislation and the judiciary in the region.
Han Zhu, a research professor at the University of Hong Kong, said that for Beijing, the protests in 2019 justified the reform of the legal system, indicating that the city’s “overall legal order” has been “seriously damaged”.
China believes that Hong Kong’s legal system needs to put the national constitution first, not Hong Kong’s mini-constitution, which is the basic law that protects rights such as freedom of speech. “This [security law] It is definitely not the end, but the beginning of the legal and political reconstruction process,” Zhu wrote.
According to reports, Zhou Qiang, President of the Supreme People’s Court of China, told the Hong Kong judiciary to “fully implement” the policies of the Chinese government to ensure that every official at the top of Hong Kong is a patriot.
The Financial Times revealed last month how Pro-Beijing politicians step in In the process of appointing a senior Hong Kong judge-this process was basically free from political interference. This opens up a potential way for Beijing to more directly influence the choice of judges.
For the Hong Kong judiciary, its independent tradition has a long history Attract multinational companies Consider setting up an Asia-Pacific headquarters in the city, the real test may have just begun.
“Judicial independence is the main difference between Hong Kong and the Mainland… and the Hong Kong feature that Beijing despises most,” said lawyer Fisher.