New Bar Association head seeks security law changes - RTHK
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New Bar Association head seeks security law changes

2021-01-21 HKT 21:32
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  • The new leader of the Bar Association, Paul Harris, says certain 'unconstitutional' provisions of the national security law should be amended to convince foreign governments to reinstate extradition agreements with Hong Kong. Photo: RTHK
    The new leader of the Bar Association, Paul Harris, says certain 'unconstitutional' provisions of the national security law should be amended to convince foreign governments to reinstate extradition agreements with Hong Kong. Photo: RTHK
The new chairman of Hong Kong's Bar Association, Paul Harris, on Thursday said he will campaign for changes to the national security law to try to convince foreign countries to reinstate extradition agreements with the SAR that were suspended over concerns about the legislation.

Harris told reporters after he was formally elected as Bar chairman that it has become easier for fugitives to move around, after nine western countries halted extradition arrangements with the SAR shortly after the imposition of the security law at the end of June.

"I hope to explore whether there is any chance of getting the government to agree some modifications to that national security law that will enable extradition arrangements to be reinstated. I don’t know if that’d be possible but that’s what I am going to work towards," the human rights lawyer said.

The senior counsel said there are some particularly problematic provisions in the law that aren’t consistent with the Basic Law, such as one that exempts mainland national security officers from police searches, inspection, or detention here, and another that allows national security suspects to be taken to the mainland for trial.

Harris also described it as a “difficult time” for the rule of law in Hong Kong, and vowed he will do his level best to defend it, and safeguard the SAR’s independent judiciary.

"I am a deeply-committed rule of law person. That means on the one hand I don’t like violent demonstrators, on the other hand I don’t like authorities that abuse their power."

"I have been utterly appalled and disgusted at a number of attacks on the judges that I have seen in certain newspapers recently. The judges can’t answer back, it’s the rules under which they operate, they don’t enter into public controversy. So it’s a particularly mean and disgusting thing to make groundless allegation about a judge," Harris said.

Erick Shum, along with the incumbent Anita Yip, have elected as vice-chairpersons of the Bar Association.