- Title: Hong Kong's legal elite voice autonomy fears after China intervention
- Date: 9th January 2017
- Summary: ****WARNING CONTAINS FLASH PHOTOGRAPHY*** VARIOUS OF JUDICIARY ON STAGE HONG KONG CHIEF JUSTICE OF THE COURT OF FINAL APPEAL, GEOFFREY MA, WALKING ON STAGE JUDGES VARIOUS OF BAND PLAYING CHINESE NATIONAL ANTHEM
- Embargoed: 24th January 2017 17:08
- Keywords: China Hong Kong judiciary pro-independence lawmakers Beijing legal year
- Location: HONG KONG, CHINA
- City: HONG KONG, CHINA
- Country: China
- Topics: Government/Politics
- Reuters ID: LVA0025YD1DMV
- Aspect Ratio: 16:9
- Story Text:Leading Hong Kong lawyers voiced fresh concerns on Monday (January 9) at China's intervention in the territory's judiciary, following a controversial move to ban pro-independence lawmakers by Beijing nearly two months ago.
Making its most direct intervention in Hong Kong's legal and political system since the 1997 handover from Britain, China's parliament on November 7 issued a ruling barring two elected, pro-independence politicians from taking office.
The Standing Committee of China's National People's Congress, acted under the Basic Law in making its ruling on the two lawmakers, Baggio Leung and Yau Wai-ching, after they mocked China in an abortive oath-taking ceremony last year.
"When the interpretation of the Basic Law Article 104 became a 'fait accompli' we reiterated our view that is was unnecessary, and it would do more harm than good to public perception of the continued respect for the rule of law in Hong Kong. Above all, we reiterated our concern that the perception of the authority and independence of the judiciary within the international community is liable to be undermined given the unfortunate timing of the interpretation," Hong Kong Bar Association chairman Winnie Tam said at a ceremony to mark the start of the legal year.
Following a protracted period of political tension over Hong Kong's democratic future, the move sparked fears for the city's vaunted judicial freedoms and autonomy.
"What is important is that the judiciary and the judges in the discharge of their constitutional function adhere to very basic principles … one is the independence of the judiciary," said Geoffrey Ma, Hong Kong's Chief Justice.
In 1997, Britain returned Hong Kong to Chinese control under a "one country, two systems" formula that gives the global financial hub wide-ranging autonomy, including judicial freedom.
But Communist Party rulers in Beijing have ultimate control, and some Hong Kong people are concerned they are increasingly interfering to head off dissent.
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