2022 legal year opens

January 24, 2022

The ceremonial opening of the legal year 2022 was held at the Court of Final Appeal today.


In his opening remarks, Chief Justice Andrew Cheung noted that attempts to intimidate or exert improper pressure on judges involved in trying cases arising from the events in 2019 or national security cases are on the rise, which he said are a direct affront to the rule of law and judicial independence and certainly deserve condemnation.


“What should also be stressed is that these attempts to threaten and pressurise our judges are completely futile and pointless. The work of our courts remains wholly unaffected by them and our judges continue to dispense justice as it ought to be.”


Mr Cheung also emphasised that designated judges handling cases concerning offences endangering national security would not affect the impartiality of courts.


“It is conducive to public confidence in our judicial system to assure the community that, from the Judiciary’s perspective, there is no question of the impartiality of our courts being affected by this special arrangement under Article 44 (of the National Security Law).”


The Chief Justice noted that judicial independence in Hong Kong has attracted a fair amount of attention in the past two years, both locally and overseas, and made it clear that the Judiciary always welcomes healthy attention and constructive comments on its work, but not those which are not based on facts. 


“When such attention and comments are not based on objective facts and rational arguments, but rather on surmises, political stances or geopolitical considerations, they are of no value to the advancement of the rule of law in Hong Kong or the upholding of judicial independence.”


Also speaking at the event, Secretary for Justice Teresa Cheng said the original aspiration of the Basic Law is upholding national unity and territorial integrity, and maintaining the prosperity and stability of Hong Kong.


She added that if the fundamental precondition of “one country” is upheld, honoured and respected, there is no reason why the “two systems” underpinned by the common law would not continue.


“Article 5 of the Basic Law guarantees that Hong Kong shall retain the capitalist system and way of life for 50 years. It does not mean that this will cease thereafter.


“Secondly, as a matter of common sense, if ‘one country, two systems’ functions effectively and serves our country and Hong Kong well, there is no reason for it to change.


“Importantly, President Xi Jinping and various leaders of the Central People’s Government have repeatedly expressed unequivocal support and stern determination to implement ‘one country, two systems’.”


Looking forward, Ms Cheng said implementing Article 23 of the Basic Law is the first and foremost task for the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region to fulfil its constitutional duty.


The Department of Justice will provide full support and independent professional legal advice to the Security Bureau and draft the relevant laws, she added.

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