26th September 2023 – (Hong Kong) The Government of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR) has issued a strong condemnation against various overseas organisations and media for their misleading and slanderous remarks regarding the law enforcement actions and legal proceedings in the cases involving Jimmy Lai Chee-ying. These remarks are seen as blatant political interference in the internal affairs of Hong Kong and the independent exercise of judicial power by the HKSAR courts.
In response to these remarks, a spokesman for the HKSAR Government emphasised that Hong Kong residents enjoy fundamental rights and freedoms protected under the Basic Law and the Hong Kong Bill of Rights Ordinance. The Hong Kong National Security Law (NSL) explicitly states that human rights shall be respected and protected in safeguarding national security, and the rights and freedoms of Hong Kong residents, including freedom of speech, press, publication, association, and assembly, shall be protected in accordance with the law. However, it is important to note that these rights and freedoms are not absolute and may be subject to restrictions when necessary for legitimate aims such as national security or public order. The spokesman also stressed that journalists, like everyone else, have an obligation to abide by the law.
Under Article 85 of the Basic Law, the courts of the HKSAR are independent and free from interference. In all cases involving Jimmy Lai, he has exercised his right to defend himself and to appeal, and the verdicts and sentences (if applicable) were handed down by the courts independently, based on relevant laws, facts, and evidence presented in open trials and hearings. The detailed reasons for the sentences can be found in the publicly available judgments. Any suggestion that the charges were baseless or the convictions unjust is a direct disrespect to the administration of justice. The HKSAR Government strongly urges the overseas entities involved to cease interfering in the independent exercise of judicial power and the internal affairs of Hong Kong.
The law enforcement agencies in the HKSAR have been carrying out their duties based on evidence and in strict accordance with the law regarding the actions of individuals or entities involved. The Department of Justice of the HKSAR is responsible for criminal prosecutions, making decisions based on an objective analysis of all admissible evidence and applicable laws. Therefore, any suggestion that these cases were politically motivated is entirely unfounded and inappropriate.
The spokesman further added, “Granting immunity from legal sanctions to individuals or organizations based on certain backgrounds is equivalent to allowing them the privilege to break the law, which goes against the very spirit of the rule of law.”
Any attempt by any country, organisation, or individual to interfere with judicial proceedings in the HKSAR using political power, in order to help a defendant evade the criminal justice process, is a direct violation of the rule of law in Hong Kong. Engaging in acts or making statements with the intent to interfere with or obstruct the course of justice may constitute the offences of criminal contempt of court or perverting the course of justice. Additionally, requesting foreign countries to impose “sanctions” against the HKSAR or the People’s Republic of China would be considered collusion with a foreign country or external elements to endanger national security, as outlined in Article 29 of the NSL.
The HKSAR Government firmly rejects the calls for “sanctions” and will not be intimidated. They will continue to fulfil their responsibility of safeguarding national security in accordance with the law. The relevant countries to which these calls were directed are strongly urged to observe international law and basic norms of international relations, refraining from interfering in Hong Kong matters, which are solely China’s internal affairs.