(Bloomberg) — Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab is consulting with the U.K.’s most senior legal officer on the position of British judges in Hong Kong’s Court of Final Appeal, as he condemned China’s “chilling” national security law for suppressing legal freedoms in the former British colony.
Hong Kong’s independent judiciary is a key to its success as a global financial hub, and its constitution, known as the Basic Law, states that judges may come from other common law jurisdictions. Senior judges from the U.K., Australia and New Zealand occasionally hear cases in Hong Kong based on their expertise on points of public and constitutional importance.
But Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam has argued there is no separation of legal and political powers under the Basic Law, and international observers have expressed concern about the future impartiality of the court under China’s new national security law and other efforts to quell dissent.
China Warns U.K. it Will ‘Pay the Price’ For Poisoned Relations
By considering the status of Britain’s judges, Raab is using another tool to protest the implementation by China of national security laws that criminalize a broad range of acts, such as sedition, secession, foreign collusion and terrorism. He has already offered U.K. visas to Hong Kong citizens and banned the export of weapons to the region.
The U.K. will “monitor” the use of the National Security Law that allows “the mainland authorities to take jurisdiction over certain cases without any independent oversight” and “its implications for the role of U.K. judges in the Hong Kong justice system,” Raab said in a written report to Parliament Wednesday.
Last month, Hong Kong’s Lam pointed to the appointment of the deputy president of the U.K. Supreme Court, Lord Patrick Stewart Hodge, to the roster of foreign judges, as evidence of judicial independence.
For more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com
©2020 Bloomberg L.P.