August 11, 2022


Let'S Talk Law

Hong Kong Court docket Backs No-jury Protection Legislation Trials

The to start with Hong Konger to be charged below Beijing’s nationwide safety legislation can be tried using with no a jury, a senior judge reported Thursday in a ruling that cements the financial hub’s rapidly-switching authorized traditions.

Tong Ying-package, 24, was charged with two crimes less than the new law a day just after it came into outcome following he allegedly drove his motorcycle into a group of law enforcement officers throughout a protest.

Hong Kong’s justice secretary opted from utilizing a jury for his future trial, a final decision AFP to start with uncovered in February.

Tong challenged that selection at the Superior Court but missing on Thursday.

In his ruling, Significant Court docket choose Alex Lee mentioned before the stability legislation, a jury “was the only mode of demo then obtainable” for these types of really serious crimes.

“On the other hand, the exact same is no more time genuine immediately after the enactment of the NSL (Nationwide Safety Law),” he wrote.

Trial by jury for significant felony situations has been used by Hong Kong’s typical regulation technique for 176 decades and is described by the city’s own judiciary on its web page as a single of its “most critical features”.

But the national stability law, which was penned in Beijing and imposed on Hong Kong past year, allows for situations to be tried by 3 specially selected judges.

“Any preceding appropriate to jury trial in the Court docket of 1st Instance, if existed, shall be abrogated in ‘criminal proceedings regarding offences endangering nationwide security’,” Lee wrote.

Reduce courts in Hong Kong that check out a lot less significant crimes also do not have juries, one thing Lee claimed showed there was no constitutional appropriate for a jury in all prosecutions.

The security regulation was explicitly developed to quash dissent pursuing big and normally violent professional-democracy protests that convulsed Hong Kong in 2019 and it has been effective.

Tong Ying-kit, charged less than Hong Kong’s new security law, can be tried out with no a jury, a judge has ruled Picture: AFP / ISAAC LAWRENCE

It targets any acts deemed secession, subversion, terrorism and international collusion.

Its broad wording — and subsequent software — has criminalised a great deal dissent.

Far more than 100 individuals have been arrested, together with quite a few prominent democracy advocates, most of whom have been denied bail and deal with up to lifestyle in jail if convicted.

It has also radically reworked Hong Kong’s popular regulation authorized landscape, which was historically firewalled from the authoritarian mainland — something international businesses and regulation corporations are viewing intently.

China claims it now has jurisdiction for some countrywide security circumstances and the regulation permits mainland security agents to operate brazenly in the city for the very first time.

Along with the no jury trial precedent, the presumption of bail has also been eliminated for countrywide safety crimes.

In his software, Tong’s legal counsel Philip Dykes argued that trial by jury was “not only a safety in opposition to tyranny but also an insurance policies that the prison legislation in its software in a scenario will conform to the everyday man’s notion of what if honest and just”.

Jenkin Suen, an external counsel symbolizing the Justice Division, argued that “jury demo is not a constitutional proper” and that the conclusion was within the scope of “prosecutorial independence”.

Tong is the only man or woman so significantly billed with an explicitly violent criminal offense. All other countrywide stability prices have been for an accused’s political views or speech.

Tong faces one particular count of terrorism and a single count of secession — the latter since he was allegedly traveling a banner that exhibited the common protest slogan “Liberate Hong Kong, revolution of our occasions”.

He also faces a rely of dangerous driving.

His demo is anticipated to start on June 23.