Interview: Draft law on safeguarding national security in HKSAR respects judicial independence: British barrister

Source: Xinhua| 2020-06-22 16:26:32|Editor: huaxia

HONG KONG, June 22 (Xinhua) -- The draft law on safeguarding national security in China's Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR) reviewed by the national legislature respects the current legal system in Hong Kong and does not affect its judicial independence, renowned British barrister Grenville Cross has said here.

"We have not yet seen the full details of the draft law, but it is reassuring to know that common law principles will be applied to the handling of cases, including the presumption of innocence, protection of human rights, and the guarantee of a fair trial," Cross told Xinhua in an interview.

Cross had worked as the Director of Public Prosecutions in Hong Kong for 12 years since 1997 and has an in-depth understanding of Hong Kong's judicial practice.

The draft law was submitted for deliberation at the 19th session of the Standing Committee of the 13th National People's Congress (NPC) last week. The legislation is aimed at plugging the national security loophole in Hong Kong and restoring peace and order after a string of violent incidents and riots last year.

As a seasoned legal practitioner, Cross recognized the urgency and necessity of the legislation.

Since the outbreak of the social unrest last June, radicals advocating "Hong Kong independence" have colluded with external forces and applied "burn with us" and terror-style tactics, Cross said, noting that their goal is to destroy Hong Kong and contain China's development, which seriously endangered China's national security and left "one country, two systems" in peril.

However, 23 years now since its return to China, Hong Kong has not yet enacted laws on its own to safeguard national security, a constitutional responsibility stipulated in Article 23 of the Basic Law of the HKSAR.

"With the prospect of such violence resuming at any time, the need for a national security law has become urgent," Cross said.

The draft makes stipulations on what constitutes four categories of crimes that threaten national security and their corresponding penalties, including secession, subversion of state power, terrorist activities, and collusion with foreign or external forces to endanger national security.

In terms of the crime of collusion with foreign or external forces to endanger national security, Cross suggested the offenses should also include "asking external forces to harm the interests of Hong Kong officials or agencies, or to otherwise hurt the interests of Hong Kong."

The new law will provide Hong Kong with an antidote and enable "one country, two systems" to remain stable, Cross said.

Cross stressed that Hong Kong should still enact laws on its own to safeguard national security through Article 23 of the Basic Law.

As a minimalist approach has been adopted by the NPC to combat the immediate dangers to the HKSAR, Hong Kong still has the responsibility to make laws in terms of other crimes endangering national security, Cross said. Enditem