Home World News In Hong Kong, the very political rebellion of two British judges

In Hong Kong, the very political rebellion of two British judges

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► Why did two British judges resign from their posts on the Court of Final Appeal?

British judges Patrick Hodge and Robert Reed resigned on Wednesday March 30 from their posts on the Hong Kong Court of Final Appeal. “I have concluded, in agreement with the British government, that the judges of the Supreme Court cannot continue to sit in Hong Kong without appearing to endorse an administration which has departed from the values ​​of political freedom and freedom of expression” , said Robert Reed, the Chief Justice of Britain sent to Hong Kong since 1997.

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Because in accordance with the agreements on the retrocession of Hong Kong to the People’s Republic of China, enshrined in the Basic Law, the Hong Kong justice system had to keep all its independence vis-à-vis China. As such, British judges sit in Hong Kong’s highest court, along with other judges from the United Kingdom, Australia and Canada. Britain’s Supreme Court had previously raised concerns about the national security law imposed by Beijing on July 1, 2020, in the aftermath of massive pro-democracy protests.

► What is the role and status of the Hong Kong Court of Final Appeal?

Founded on July 1, 1997, the day Hong Kong returned to Chinese rule after more than a century of British rule, the Court of Final Appeal is a court of last resort modeled on the Supreme Court in the United States. . During negotiations between Beijing and London in 1984, it was agreed that Hong Kong would be managed by Beijing on the principle of“one country, two systems”retaining a high degree of autonomy for its judicial system.

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The Court of Final Appeal operates with a chief judge, necessarily a Hong Konger, three permanent judges and 30 non-permanent judges without condition of nationality. “The diversity of all these judges should guarantee the independence of Hong Kong justice in the eyes of Hong Kongers and the international community, explains William, a Hong Kong lawyer exiled in London. Mainland Chinese justice is political justice serving the interests of the Communist Party and its credibility is nil. But, for months, the independence of the Hong Kong judiciary has been increasingly reduced under political pressure from local and continental authorities. »

► Why don’t five other British judges, three Australians and a Canadian, want to resign?

If the two resigning British judges wanted to express their pessimism about the state of Hong Kong justice, three Australian judges, a Canadian and five other British judges announced on Friday April 1 that they would continue to sit in Hong Kong’s highest court. . “At a critical time in Hong Kong’s history, it is more important than ever to support the work of its appellate courts to uphold the rule of law and checks on executive action,” explained the British judges who did not resign, against the advice of London, in a press release. “The Court operates as an independent judicial branch of government, perhaps the last strong institution of democracy that remains,” said Canadian judge Beverley McLachlin.

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For its part, China has “strongly deplored” this decision, accusing London of wanting “Maliciously vilifying China’s policies for Hong Kong and discrediting the development of the rule of law in Hong Kong”. Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam, who could be reappointed next May, said the resignations were part of a “political conspiracy” of the British government. “I can only draw the conclusion that there must be a lot of politics behind this,” she said on Friday April 1 at a press conference.

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