(TibetanReview.net, Jul01’20) – Hundreds of people took to the streets of Hong Kong on Jul 1, the 23rd anniversary of the city’s handover to China from Britain and on which China’s highly controversial national security law for Hong Kong came into force.
In Causeway Bay, police raised a new flag warning crowds they were violating the freshly minted law, but campaigners still gathered in defiance of a ban on the annual Jul 1 march, reported the scmp.com Jul 1. It said more than 30 arrests were made over various violations, including under the new legislation.
The new law lists four categories of offences – secession, subversion, terrorism, and collusion with a foreign country or external elements to endanger national security. The maximum penalty for each crime is life imprisonment, although the suggested sentence for some minor offences is less than three years’ imprisonment.
Suspects can be extradited to mainland China in cases that involve “complicated situations” of interference by foreign forces; cases in which the local government cannot effectively enforce the law and ones where national security is under “serious and realistic threats”.
The report said that for those cases in which Beijing exercises jurisdiction, a mainland agency that will be established in Hong Kong to enforce national security will carry out investigations and China’s Supreme People’s Procuratorate will assign authorities to lead prosecution. And China’s Supreme People’s Court will assign courts to hear those cases.
Information about the operation of a new national security commission will not be disclosed and its decisions are not subject to any judicial review.
The law also grants wide powers to mainland Chinese agents stationed in Hong Kong. Under Article 60, the officers and the vehicles they use to carry out their duties are not subject to checks by local law enforcement, the report said.
The report also noted that while Beijing and Hong Kong officials had been promising the law will safeguard human rights, it does not make jury trials mandatory, nor does it promise open trials for all.
“Beijing has the final say on what cases will fall into the category of China’s jurisdiction,” Civic Party leader Alvin Yeung Ngok-kiu was quoted as saying. “They can arbitrarily arrest and extradite anyone to China for secret trials. It’s shameless for them to say they are safeguarding the ‘one country, two systems’.”
The new legislation states that if there is a conflict with existing Hong Kong law, the national security law will prevail.