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During recent violent demonstrations, rioters started fires outside the High Court and Court of Final Appeal buildings and also painted abusive, political graffiti which insulted judges. On social websites, judges and their spouses were doxxed and their personal data disclosed.
Lawmaker and legal academic Priscilla Leung Mei-fun strongly condemned such behavior. She told China Daily: “It is totally unacceptable that the judicial independence and the personal safety (of judges) are at risk. Even though people may not be satisfied with the ruling of the judges, they should not intimidate and doxx judicial officers.”
“I hope the judges will not be afraid. The government and police should protect the personal safety of the judges,” she added.
Since the illegal, violent protests began in June 2019, over 7,000 people have been arrested and a huge number of cases are waiting to be heard in court. Leung believes court proceedings here are too slow, and urged the judiciary to expedite legal procedures.
Leung explained: “After the rioting occurred in London in 2011, the courts speeded up hearings of the cases by assigning more judges to hear the cases around the clock seven days a week.
“It is bad that the cases are held up in a bottleneck (in Hong Kong), because justice delayed is justice denied. Society is waiting for judges to adjudicate on the cases and to uphold the rule of law.”
Leung also noted that Civic Party lawmaker Dennis Kwok Wing-hang, who represents the legal profession in the Legislative Council, was unmoved by violent protests, damage to court buildings and intimidation of judges. He had simply said “such acts were regretted”.
The lawmaker said this made her angry, adding: “Judicial independence and safety of the judges are under threat. I feel very disappointed with his attitude toward violence and the protesters.”
Leung, who is also a university law professor, is also upset that many people, including former LegCo president Jasper Tsang Yok-sing, are advocating amnesties for some offenders at this stage.
“It is too early to talk about amnesty although Article 48 of the Basic Law empowers the chief executive to consider amnesty. While rioting is still continuing, some offenders are at large, and so, how can we talk about amnesty now and draw a line as to who should be pardoned?
“It is only after the unrest is settled, the offenders are arrested, prosecuted and sentenced should an amnesty be considered. In my view, only young people who were incited by others to commit lesser offences should be pardoned.
“If we talk about amnesty now, that would only encourage more people to commit crimes such as arson and vandalism, and that would be very unfair to the law-abiding people,” she said.
Leung also noted that there had been inconsistent bail conditions given to people arrested in violent, illegal protests. While some were remanded and refused bail by courts, others were granted bail to travel to foreign countries and to study abroad.
“I suggest the Chief Justice Geoffrey Ma Tao-li should issue bail guidelines to the lower courts to prevent arrested people from committing crimes again and absconding,” she said.
Last year, the court granted bail to two suspects in the 2016 Mong Kok riot to join in overseas exchanges in Germany. While there, the pair sought political asylum, attacked the extradition bill with other separatists and never returned. But the other suspects were convicted and jailed. It seems the courts had not learnt from this, concluded Leung.plastic rubber band braceletscustom silicone bracelets cheapcustomized silicone braceletsbest buy wristbandplastic bracelets