BarSo wants narrower sedition definition in Article 23 - RTHK
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BarSo wants narrower sedition definition in Article 23

2024-02-29 HKT 19:02
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  • BarSo wants narrower sedition definition in Article 23
The Bar Association said on Thursday that the government should consider narrowing the definition of "acts with seditious intent".

This recommendation came as part of the Bar's submission to the administration on Basic Law Article 23 national security legislation.

It said officials should consider adding the requirement of "an intention to incite violence or disorder", or encouraging others to disobey the law, to the definition of sedition.

It should also only be a sedition offence, the Bar said, when the suspect knows the likelihood that violence, disobeying the law or a breach of the peace may occur.

The association said in its submission that it agreed with the constitutional duty to enact the national security laws, but stressed the need to ensure that the legislation will comply with human rights standards guaranteed in the Basic Law and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.

"While the consultation paper suggests strengthening certain enforcement powers, the Bar hopes that the government will consider safeguarding the rights of the arrested persons correspondingly," the Bar's chairman, Victor Dawes, told a press conference.

"The balance coexists of both enforcement power and protection of rights will better maintain the international community's confidence in Hong Kong's rule of law."

Dawes said all related crimes, especially the newly added ones, should be precisely defined so that law abiding citizens won't be caught inadvertently, as well as ensuring convictions of those who genuinely endanger national security.

The Bar also called on officials to consider defining treason as levying "an actual war" against China, rather than local riots and disturbances that don't amount to an armed rebellion.

Dawes said the Bar supports introducing laws banning the misprison of treason, or deliberately concealing a known treasonable act.

In the consultation document, the government cited a UK law to suggest that those arrested for national security reasons could be detained for more than 48 hours without charge.

The Bar said this should apply only when the police "reasonably suspect" the person "is or has been involved in foreign power threat activities".

Dawes said another safeguard the government can provide is to require the Secretary for Justice's consent for prosecuting serious offences.

He added that officials should consider providing a public interest defence over the crime of leaking state secrets, and everyone, not just journalists, should be allowed to use this defence.

BarSo wants narrower sedition definition in Article 23