Fears again raised that new law may be retroactive - RTHK
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Fears again raised that new law may be retroactive

2020-06-08 HKT 14:57
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  • Fears again raised that new law may be retroactive
Legal sector lawmaker Dennis Kwok on Monday demanded answers from Justice Secretary Teresa Cheng after she said the national security law Beijing is preparing for Hong Kong could be applied retroactively in certain situations.

At the weekend, Cheng said that as a matter of principle criminal charges are not to be laid retrospectively, but there "always some exceptions" in relation to treaty and customary international law.

A furious Kwok demanded to know what exceptions Cheng is thinking of.

"Is she trying to drive fear and terror through society as a whole? Because retrospective effect of a criminal offence is an absolute no under existing, basic legal principles," he said.

"Under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and under the Bill of Rights, it's very clear you cannot have retrospective criminal offences. Not even in the case of an emergency."

The Civic Party lawmaker noted that under some international law, retroactive legislation might be appropriate to deal with genocide or crimes against humanity, and asked whether this is what Cheng has in mind.

Kwok also condemned remarks made by former security minister Regina Ip that there should be no jury trials for people charged with national security offences.

"Serious offences against the government are triable with a jury. That's required by law. If they say the national security law is there to punish the most serious criminals in the SAR, who are plotting to overthrow the government by force, or using acts of terror, these are serious offences. Of course they should be tried by the Court of First Instance, with a jury," he said.

"That is the basic legal principle that cuts through our entire legal system. So I wish those who understand how our legal system works would not distort these basic principles and fundamental rights."

Ip had said on Sunday that many jurors may refuse to sit on a national security case trial for various reasons, such as a fear of being doxxed.