Security law aligns with int'l practice

July 17, 2021

The National Security Law is in line with the international practice of safeguarding national security, the Department of Justice said today.


The department issued a statement in response to the US administration's so-called advisory to US businesses and individuals operating in Hong Kong, saying it is appalling to see that a number of western countries have launched groundless attacks on the National Security Law with a deliberate attempt to mislead the international community.


It stated that the National Security Law clearly stipulates that the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region shall protect the rights and freedoms enjoyed by residents under the Basic Law and the provisions of the International Covenant on Civil & Political Rights (ICCPR) and the International Covenant on Economic, Social & Cultural Rights as applied to Hong Kong in accordance with the law.


However, these rights and freedoms are not absolute. The ICCPR states that they may be subject to restrictions as prescribed by law if it is necessary in the interests of national security, public safety and order, or the rights and freedoms of others.


The department noted that it has been carrying out its constitutional duty in a professional and fair manner, while its prosecutors must act in accordance with the National Security Law and local laws.


All prosecutorial decisions are based on admissible evidence and applicable laws and cases will never be handled any differently owing to the political beliefs or background of the people involved. Prosecutions would only be commenced if there is sufficient admissible evidence to support a reasonable prospect of conviction.


The department also pointed out that extraterritorial application vested with the National Security Law is in line with the well-recognised international law principle of protective jurisdiction and the international practice. If foreigners commit crimes abroad against a sovereign state that endanger its security or its vital interests, the sovereign state can adopt laws with extraterritorial effects to exercise prescriptive criminal jurisdiction.


Extraterritoriality is in fact a common feature of national security laws in many countries, such as the US Logan Act and the German Criminal Code.


The department said judges remain independent and impartial in performing their judicial duties, free from any interference, when adjudicating cases under the National Security Law.


The arrangement on the designation of judges under the law does not undermine the highly respected judicial independence of the Hong Kong SAR, while the city has been entrusted with the responsibility under the law to exercise jurisdiction over most of the cases, save for only three specified situations.


Furthermore, the department stressed that under the principles of state sovereignty and non-intervention, sanctions should be brought only in very limited circumstances, such as dealing with terrorism or nuclear proliferation, and in an appropriate forum which is the United Nations (UN) Security Council.


Other so-called sanctions, known as unilateral coercive measures, are contrary to international law and the UN framework and violate the principle of non-intervention under international law.


Unilateral coercive measures are at odds with the international law principle of non-intervention, unbecoming of any civilised nation, and is a hindrance to international peace and stability.


Noting that countries are justified in deploying countermeasures as a response to a breach of the principle of non-intervention against itself, the department said such measures adopted by the Central People's Government are legitimate and an accepted practice under international law.


It concluded that the enactment of the National Security Law is in line with the international practice of safeguarding national security and the nation's sovereign rights.


Hong Kong's legal system and rule of law remain robust with law and order restored, while its financial market continues to grow after 2019. This proved the benefits and importance of the National Security Law to Hong Kong’s stability and prosperity.

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