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Chinese judicial freedom ranks among top: John Lee

2019-06-05 HKT 13:31
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  • The security minister says China was ranked highly in a survey conducted by the World Economic Forum on judicial independence. Photo: RTHK
    The security minister says China was ranked highly in a survey conducted by the World Economic Forum on judicial independence. Photo: RTHK
Security Secretary John Lee on Wednesday rejected concerns about the independence of the mainland's judiciary, saying the Chinese judicial system is ranked among the highest in the world.

Speaking to lawmakers who were discussing the contentious extradition bill changes, Lee said judicial independence on the mainland is not as bad as people think and cited World Economic Forum data to back this up.

"In a statement from the World Economic Forum, it is a list of ranking of judicial independence, China has a reading of 4.5. we have other countries behind China, for example South Africa 4.4, Spain 4.1, Thailand 4.1, Italy is 4, South Korea is 4 ... this is public information for your reference," the minister told lawmakers.

Lee said the survey had 145 countries and China was ranked 45. "So if you divided it into thirds, China is ranking in the top third," he said.

The minister seems to be referring to an executive opinion survey published by the World Economic Forum, which ranked China 46, with a reading of 4.5.

In an article published earlier this year, President Xi Jinping had said that China should never copy the judicial independence embraced by the West and underlined the Communist Party's leadership over the country's legal system.

“We must never follow the path of Western ‘constitutionalism,’ ‘separation of powers,’ or ‘judicial independence',’’ Xi wrote in that article published by the Qiushi journal in February

The Civic Party's Dennis Kwok asked Lee what he thought about China being ranked 121st out of 126 countries by the World Economic Forum regarding the protection of human rights.

But Lee told him that as an SAR official, he couldn't comment on this and he doesn't want to argue with legislators.

Pro-democracy lawmakers have repeatedly said that the public's lack of trust in the mainland legal system is the crux of why they oppose proposed changes to extradition laws.

Lee had previously said that the mainland’s judicial system requires law enforcement agencies to notify family members of a suspect within a specific period of time after an arrest, and that a suspect is also entitled to legal representation during a trial, so “the legal provisions completely fulfil the requirement” of human rights protections.

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Last updated: 2019-06-05 HKT 15:45