Hong Kong's Department of Justice, Hong Kong Bar Association condemn US lawmakers' call for sanctions on national security judges

Hong Kong's Department of Justice, Hong Kong Bar Association condemn US lawmakers' call for sanctions on national security judges

On October 1, 2021, China's national flag five-star red flag and the flag of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region are seen flying on a street in Hong Kong. PHOTO XINHUA Hong Kong's Department of Justice and the Hong Kong Bar Association on Thursday condemned seven US lawmakers calling for Washington to impose sanctions on national security judges and prosecutors in Hong Kong.

Both said they dissented from any attempts to interfere with the operation of Hong Kong's independent judiciary.

On May 3, seven members of the US House of Representatives wrote to US President Joe Biden, urging his administration to impose sanctions on National Security Law-designated judges of the Hong Kong judiciary and prosecutors for failing to meet its obligations under the Sino-British Joint Declaration and implementing the National Security Law for Hong Kong. All seven lawmakers are members of the Republican Party.

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The Department of Justice deplores the blatant calls for sanctions against officials, judicial officers, and prosecutors in the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region in an attempt to interfere with legal proceedings. It said that the principle of nonintervention is an important concept of sovereign equality, which is a fundamental principle of international law.

Any state that imposes coercive measures on other government officials or individuals with a view to interfere with internal affairs or exercise of the sovereign power of another state is in violation of international law and the UN framework, and most importantly violates the principle of nonintervention under international law, the DoJ told China Daily.

It added that Article 63 of the Basic Law guarantees that the prosecutions are free from interference, and that its officers will continue to carry out their duties in a professional manner without fear or favor.

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The Hong Kong Bar Association, Hong Kong's professional body for barristers, deplored and condemned the move by the US Senate in its strongest terms, saying that there can be no question about the integrity and independence of Hong Kong judges whose selection, appointment and discharge of their constitutional duties are free from political considerations and interference.

The bar said that it is of fundamental importance to the rule of law in Hong Kong and elsewhere that the judiciary, judges and judicial officers are allowed to exercise their judicial power independently and without any interference.

The bar stressed that lawyers should not be subject to illegitimate pressure when defending or prosecuting, saying this would constitute interference in the proper administration of justice and the right to legal representation.