The Court of Appeal has granted leave for more than 20 pan-democratic activists and lawmakers to bring their case against the government’s anti-mask law to the top court.
The appeal court earlier ruled that it was in line with the Basic Law for the Chief Executive, Carrie Lam, to invoke the Emergency Regulations Ordinance to ban face masks in unauthorised protests with an aim to curb unrest.
At the same time, though, the appeal court stated in its ruling in April that both the ban on facial coverings during lawful public gatherings, and the power granted to police officers to remove masks, were still unconstitutional.
The lawmakers and activists, including Dennis Kwok, Claudia Mo, James To, Ip Kin-yuen, Leung Kwok-hung and Au Nok-hin, challenged the mask ban.
They said, among other things, that the law was unconstitutional and against the Bill of Rights, given what is described as a lack of definition of the emergency and public danger required for such a piece of legislation.
They also said there’s an absence of the checks and balances enshrined in the separation of executive, legislative and judicial powers, because the law was imposed upon the discretion of the CE.
Meanwhile, the government argued that a blanket pre-emptive ban was necessary to tackle “more radical and violent protesters" employing ‘black-bloc’ tactic.
The administration contended that banning masks at public demonstrations would protect people’s right of taking part in peaceful assemblies.
The appeal court conceded that these are questions of great general or public importance that need to be considered by the Court of Final Appeal. A date will be scheduled later for the hearing.