DoJ responds to UN statement

October 13, 2021

The enactment of the National Security Law is in line with the international practice of safeguarding national security and the sovereign rights of each state, the Department of Justice (DoJ) said today.


In its response to a United Nations special rapporteurs statement on the National Security Law, the department noted that Hong Kong's legal system and rule of law remain robust with law and order restored, enabling its residents to enjoy their rights and freedoms in a safe and peaceful environment.


The National Security Law clearly stipulates that the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region shall protect the rights and freedoms enjoyed by its 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, such rights and freedoms are not absolute, the department stressed, adding that the ICCPR expressly states that they may be subject to restrictions as prescribed by law that are necessary for protection of national security, public safety, public order or the rights and freedoms of others and more.


In handling cases concerning offences endangering national security, the department's prosecutors must act in accordance with the National Security Law and local law, and all prosecutorial decisions are based on admissible evidence and applicable laws.


Cases will never be handled differently owing to the political beliefs or background of the people involved. Prosecutions would be instituted only if there is sufficient admissible evidence to support a reasonable prospect of conviction and is in the public interest to do so.


The DoJ noted that said it has been carrying out this constitutional duty in a professional and fair manner, and pointed out that Article 63 of the Basic Law expressly guarantees that all prosecutions are controlled by the department, free from any interference.


When adjudicating cases under the National Security Law, as in any other case, judges remain independent and impartial in performing their judicial duties free from any interference. On how to handle applications for bail by people charged with offences endangering national security in accordance with the National Security Law, the Court of Final Appeal has laid down relevant principles in a judgment on February 9.


The Basic Law, the National Security Law and provisions of the ICCPR as applied to Hong Kong guarantee defendants' right to a fair trial. As a matter of fact, in the first trial of offences contrary to the National Security Law in the Court of First Instance, the defendant's legal representatives accepted that the defendant would still have a fair trial before a panel of three judges without a jury.


No one should comment on cases in respect of which legal proceedings are still ongoing as the matter is sub judice, the department added.

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