The Hong Kong Bar Association says Beijing should avoid giving an impression that it’s exhorting local judges to achieve a particular objective.
In a response to remarks made by Vice Premier Han Zheng in Beijing last week, the association said such moves would affect the independence of the judiciary in the SAR.
Han, during a meeting Chief Executive Carrie Lam in the capital, said it is “the common responsibility of the city’s executive, legislative and judicial bodies to stop violence and restore order” in Hong Kong.
The association said it agrees that it is the duty of the judiciary in Hong Kong to uphold the rule of law, including public order. However, it said the judiciary must be allowed to do so independently, free from any interference.
It said, as stated in the Basic Law, Hong Kong is granted a high degree of autonomy and is vested with independent judicial power, including that of final adjudication.
“Although the desire to see the present troubles ended is obviously understandable, any statement made by the Central People’s Government or its officials, which could be taken as an official exhortation to judges to achieve a particular objective may be seen as an encroachment on the independence of the judiciary,” it said.
The association said similar impression was given when the State Council published the white paper in 2014, which describes judges and judicial officers as “administrators”.
The bar said it issued a statement then pointing out that the description implies that the courts in Hong Kong are part of the machinery of the government that may be the subject of administrative directions from Beijing. It said “any such impression must be avoided”.