Hong Kong plans to add more national security crimes, broaden definition of spying — Radio Free Asia

Hong Kong plans to add more national security crimes, broaden definition of spying — Radio Free Asia

Hong Kongs security secretary alerted on Wednesday that the citys federal government plans to broaden the scope of the colonial-era Official Secrets Act to encompass broader definitions of espionage.
Chris Tang told the citys legislature that existing legislation, consisting of the draconian national security law, is currently too minimal to cover all of the activities the federal government wishes to criminalize.
” In the existing Official Secrets Ordinance, the meaning of espionage work is rather limited,” Tang stated in remarks aired by federal government broadcaster RTHK. “It covers the approach of restricted places and the making of details useful to the enemy.”
” We feel that these definitions are inadequate for us to combat all good manners of espionage activities and threats emerging from these,” he stated.
The changes will be made at the same time as new legislation is tabled under Article 23 of the citys Basic Law governing nationwide security laws, likely in the 2nd half of this year, Tang said. Earlier plans to enact laws under Article 23 were shelved following mass popular demonstrations in 2003.
Tangs warning followed the authorities appointed a designated national security judge to preside in the trial of 5 speech therapists who were charged with “conspiracy to print, publish, distribute, show or recreate seditious publications” under colonial-era sedition laws.
The ruling means there could be no jury at the trial of Sidney Ng, 28, Samuel Chan, 25, Marco Fong, 26, Lai Man-ling, 25, and Melody Yeung, 27, who were jailed in July 2021 after releasing 3 childrens books that represented sheep uniting to safeguard their village versus attacking wolves, a plot-line that the authorities said prompted hatred of the authorities.
The 5 offenders appeared in good spirits as they were accompanied into the District Court previously today, waving and smiling to enjoyed ones in the general public gallery.
The prosecution argued that Article 44 of an oppressive national security law imposed on Hong Kong by the ruling Chinese Communist Party (CCP) from July 1, 2020 applied in the case, in addition to the sedition charges.
Nevertheless, they have actually been denied bail as the charges against them are considered a matter of “nationwide security.”
Trial fairness questioned
The hearing was led by national security judge Kwok Wai-kin, who was temporarily suspended from duty after revealing compassion in court for an offender implicated of stabbing protesters during the 2019 demonstration movement.
Kwok, who is a designated national security judge, selected himself to hear the trial, in spite of arguments from the defense that it would prejudice the general publics understanding of the fairness of the trial.
” Designated nationwide security law judges are no different from other judges,” Kwok retorted.
Hong Kongs Chief Justice Andrew Cheung hit back on Monday at issues over absence of impartiality in trials evaluated by nationwide security appointees.
” All designated judges are incumbent judges, and, as such, need to initially have fulfilled Article 92 of the Basic Law, and the strict requirements on professional and judicial abilities in choosing judges,” Cheung said in a speech opening the legal brand-new year in Hong Kong.
” No political or individual factors are allowed to be included,” he stated.
National security judges are picked by the president, who may talk to the chief justice while making the classification, he stated.
The “seditious sheep” trial is set to begin on July 5, 2022. All of the defendants have been hung on remand for at least 5 months.
Until the national security law ushered in a city-wide crackdown on serene criticism and political opposition to the government, trial by jury had been among the most crucial features of Hong Kongs common-law legal system, as it was created to provide accuseds extra protection against the abuse of official power.
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