Special courts for protests not feasible: judiciary - RTHK
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Special courts for protests not feasible: judiciary

2020-04-02 HKT 14:11
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  • The judiciary says setting up a dedicated court to deal with cases related to the city's social unrest may not be practicable. File photo: RTHK.
    The judiciary says setting up a dedicated court to deal with cases related to the city's social unrest may not be practicable. File photo: RTHK.
Hong Kong's judiciary has dismissed the idea of setting up a court to deal exclusively with cases related to the city's social unrest, saying it "may not be practicable".

DAB lawmaker Holden Chow had asked in Legco whether the authorities were considering allocating resources for a special 24-hour court, within the magistrates courts system, in order to "expedite the processing of these trials".

But in a written response from the judiciary, a spokeswoman said setting up a dedicated court to deal with the large number of protest-related cases "may not be the best and most expeditious way to dispose of these cases".

The spokeswoman explained that the cases cover a range of offences -- such as unlawful assembly, assault, arson and rioting -- which have varying maximum sentences, and therefore need to be tried at different levels of the court system.

She noted that the majority of cases related to the protests are not yet ready for trial, but will be in the coming months, and that as of March 1, a total of 613 protest-related cases have been or are being dealt with in different courts.

The spokeswoman added that a Task Group has been set up to explore ways of processing these cases faster.

Possible measures being explored include longer sitting hours, Saturday sittings “on a need basis”, and reusing the abandoned Tsuen Wan Law Courts Building for hearings.

Several thousand people have been arrested over the mass social unrest which began last summer. Protests have been few and far between in recent months amid the coronavirus outbreak.