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Saturday, Feb 24, 2024

Beijing's interpretation of NSL does not confer new power on anyone

Beijing's interpretation of NSL does not confer new power on anyone

Secretary for Justice Paul Lam Ting-kwok said it is "wrong and misconceived" that some suggest Beijing's interpretation of the Hong Kong national security law (NSL) has expanded the powers of the Chief Executive and eroded the judicial independence.
In a speech at the Ceremonial Opening of the Legal Year 2023 on Monday, Lam emphasized the interpretation is a clarification of the original intent and purpose of those provisions, which does not confer any new power on anyone or put the Chief Executive and the Committee for Safeguarding National Security of the HKSAR above the law.

"Such suggestions are plainly wrong and misconceived," he added.

Lam said the maintenance of the common law system is "one of the most important features of the principle of One country, Two systems", and the preservation of the common law is expressly guaranteed by Articles 8 and 18 of the Basic Law.

"Although the common law system has been and will be maintained in Hong Kong, it is based on the constitutional order founded on the Constitution of the People's Republic of China," he stated. "Therefore, there must be some linkages between the two systems; one of which is the power of the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress to interpret laws, including those national laws applicable to Hong Kong."

Lam stressed that the SAR government will not interfere with the Judiciary.

"I wish to make a solemn pledge that the government will do its best to defend the Judiciary so that it may exercise their constitutional powers, and discharge its constitutional duties, independently free from any interference," he said.

Lam added that promoting rule of law education and enhancing access to justice are the overriding objectives of various initiatives that the Department of Justice is implementing in the coming year.

On December 30 last year, the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress interpreted Articles 14 and 47 of the national security law, which gave Chief Executive John Lee Ka-chiu the final say on whether foreign lawyers can be involved in national security cases.

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