No misuse of gathering ban: SJ

April 27, 2020

Secretary for Justice Teresa Cheng today refuted suggestions that the law prohibiting group gatherings to combat the COVID-19 epidemic was being misused to crack down on protests and people's freedoms.


During a media session, Ms Cheng responded to criticisms from some legislators that Police were abusing the measure to clamp down on protests.


She said: “The Government respects and protects the freedoms that are set out in our laws, Basic Law and the Hong Kong Bill of Rights Ordinance. However, these freedoms are not absolute. Insofar as they violate the laws, then of course appropriate actions will have to be taken.”


The Government had earlier introduced the Prevention & Control of Disease (Prohibition on Group Gathering) Regulation (Cap. 599G) to prohibit group gatherings with more than four people in public places with a view to combating COVID-19.


The regulation was made in accordance with the Prevention & Control of Disease Ordinance (Cap. 599).


“Cap. 599G is enforced under Cap. 599 as a matter of the public health emergency situation that is facing Hong Kong at the moment. It is promulgated to encourage social distancing. It is not with any other motive except for the safety and health of the people in Hong Kong.


“I hope that you will all comply with it in spirit and in form, so that you will not gather and thereby extend Hong Kong's position in this public health emergency situation. That is the only way by which we can get back to normal life as soon as possible.”


In response to a reporter's question on the relevant provisions in the Basic Law that pertain to the Liaison Office of the Central People's Government in the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region, Ms Cheng remarked that the liaison office must also comply with Hong Kong laws.


“The Central People's Government as defined in the Constitution Law is actually the State Council, and therefore when one looks at the whole thing about the Constitution Law, Article 5 of the Constitution Law states unequivocally that every body that is set up will have to comply with the relevant laws and the Constitution Law.


“In other words, the liaison office will have to obey and comply with the laws in Hong Kong.”

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