HK’s foreign judges should be barred from national security trials: NPC deputy

By Wang Wenwen Source:Global Times Published: 2020/5/27 14:18:40

Citizens write down their signatures in a street campaign in support of the national security legislation in Hong Kong, May 22, 2020. Photo: Xinhua

A Hong Kong lawyer and deputy to China's National People's Congress (NPC) defended her proposal that foreign judges be barred from national security trials, citing conflict of interests.

The deputy also proposed setting up a special Hong Kong police branch to handle national security matters. 

"Potential or actual conflict of interests may occur if a foreign judge or a judge with dual nationality is involved in national security cases," said Maggie Chan Man-ki, who is currently in Beijing to attend the annual two sessions.

This is a matter of professionalism and the rule of law, not simply a matter of nationality, she told the Global Times Wednesday.

When a judge in Hong Kong with an American nationality hears national security cases, his judgment may be affected by the risk of being sanctioned by the Hong Kong Human Rights and Democracy Act or Placing Restrictions on Teargas Exports and Crowd Control Technology to Hong Kong Act, Chan explained, saying that such conflicts of interests must be avoided.

The appointment of foreign judges is a distinct feature of Hong Kong's legal system. For instance, the Court of Final Appeal, Hong Kong's highest court, has 23 judges, including the chief justice, three permanent judges and 19 non-permanent judges. Fifteen of the non-permanent judges are from overseas.

The NPC, the country's top legislature, is reviewing a draft decision to formulate a national security law for Hong Kong.

At the ongoing NPC session, Chan proposed a number of suggestions regarding the law, including setting up a special national security court within Hong Kong's court, and for the roles of judges to be taken by Chinese citizens in Hong Kong without foreign right of abode. 

Maggie Chan Man-ki Photo: Courtesy of Chan

She also proposed adding a new branch under the Hong Kong Police Force to enforce the national security law and a national security committee which will assist the chief executive in making decisions on national security matters, adding that the central government should be responsible for the operation of the committee, including providing personnel, technology, administrative and financial support. 

She also suggests Hong Kong's deputies to the NPC play a supervisory role regarding the implementation of the national security law in Hong Kong.


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