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8 Jun, 2021 08:47

Hong Kong will continue to invite foreign judges, says Lam, judicial system remains ‘hard as a rock’ despite UK judge resignation

Hong Kong will continue to invite foreign judges, says Lam, judicial system remains ‘hard as a rock’ despite UK judge resignation

Hong Kong’s chief executive has vowed to continue inviting foreign judges to the city’s courts, insisting Hong Kong’s legal system remains “hard as a rock” despite increasing concern for the rule of law.

Speaking on Tuesday at a regular weekly news conference, Chief Executive Carrie Lam dismissed international concerns about Hong Kong’s legal system, amid sweeping changes engendered by the national security law and the announcement that esteemed British judge Brenda Hale would step down. 

Lam said she wouldn’t speculate on Hale’s resignation announcement last week.

I believe the judiciary in Hong Kong is as hard as a rock… The chief justice will continue to invite experienced overseas judges to Hong Kong courts.

Hale, a former president of the UK’s Supreme Court, said she would step down next month when her three-year term expires. She is one of 13 overseas non-permanent judges on the Court of Final Appeal, whose presence has been seen as a guarantee of the rule of law since the UK ceded the territory to China in 1997.

In remarks made at a recent seminar in the UK, Hale questioned how the city’s legal system will operate under the new national security law. “There are all sorts of question marks up in the air,” she said. 

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But Hale added that Hong Kong’s legal system “is functioning in accordance with the rule of law, at least as far as commercial law is concerned.”

In May, Hong Kong’s legislative body overwhelmingly backed the ‘patriots rule’ electoral reform, which restricts political positions in the autonomous region to people who support a united China. 

Many argue that these changes will end democracy in the city, giving Beijing the ability to handpick candidates for office.

Beijing claims the national security law will establish stability in the autonomous region and bring the city’s rules further in line with mainland China.

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