Photo taken on March 5, 2022 shows a view of the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, capital of China. (XING GUANGLI / XINHUA)
The Standing Committee of the
National People’s Congress on Friday adopted an interpretation of
Articles 14 and 47 of the Law of the
People’s Republic of China on Safeguarding National Security in the
Hong Kong Special Administrative
Region, further clarifying the duties
of the special administrative
region’s Committee for Safeguarding National Security and its chief
executive, as well as the legal basis
for handling cases related to
national security in the city.
The interpretation was given in
response to a request by Hong
Kong’s Chief Executive John Lee
Ka-chiu to clarify whether overseas
lawyers who are not qualified to
generally practice in the SAR can
engage in national security cases.
The Standing Committee’s legal interpretation mentioned that under Article 47 of the law, Hong Kong courts must obtain a certificate from the chief executive to certify whether an act involves national security or whether evidence involves State secrets when such questions arise in trials
Lee made the request after the
SAR’s top court — the Court of Final
Appeal — allowed media tycoon
Jimmy Lai Chee-ying to hire British
King’s Counsel Timothy Owen to
defend him in a case concerning
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The Standing Committee’s legal
interpretation, announced on Friday after a four-day meeting,
stressed that the Committee for
Safeguarding National Security has
the right to make decisions on
issues involving national security in
Hong Kong. According to Article 14
of the law, the committee’s decisions are not amenable to judicial review, the interpretation said.
It mentioned that under Article 47 of the law, Hong Kong courts must obtain a certificate from the chief executive to certify whether an act involves national security or whether evidence involves State secrets when such questions arise in trials.
The potential national security risks brought by overseas lawyers in national security cases fall within the scope of Article 47, the interpretation said.
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If the court does not acquire a certificate from the chief executive,
the Committee for Safeguarding
National Security will make a decision on the matter.
While answering reporters’ questions, a spokesperson of the Legislative Affairs Commission of the NPC
Standing Committee said the interpretation will help promptly and
properly resolve major disputes
arising from the implementation of
the National Security Law. It will
also help Hong Kong residents facing legal problems to choose lawyers properly and the SAR to
exercise its independent judicial
and final adjudication powers. The
move will not undermine the SAR’s
high degree of autonomy, the
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In a statement released on Friday,
Lee said that the Committee for
Safeguarding National Security
and the Hong Kong SAR government will make every effort to fulfill
their responsibilities stated in the
interpretation. Specifically, the
committee will decide whether
overseas lawyers not fully qualified
to practice in the SAR can handle
national security cases and what
policies should be adopted in
resolving the issue.
Oasis Hu contributed to this story.