Hong Kong, June 23 (IANS) Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam on Tuesday reiterated her support for the new security law approved by China and assured that it will not harm the city’s judicial independence and autonomy and would safeguard human rights and freedom of press and expression.
Lam tried to assuage concerns over Hong Kong judiciary’s independence under the new law pushed by Beijing, and said that she will not hand pick judges for national security cases but will consult Chief Justice, reports Efe news.
In her weekly press conference, Lam agreed that Hong Kong must establish a national security council headed by the chief executive and will set up Police and Justice department special units which would take over the main responsibilities of the relevant laws.
Lam also said that those who have expressed their concern over the power of the Chief Executive in selecting the judges were unaware and added that according to local legislation, the leader already appoints local judges based on the advice of the judicial advisory committee.
“Under the Basic Law there are only two positions in the judiciary that have a nationality requirement; that is the chief justice in the court of final appeal and the chief judge of the high court,” said Lam.
The national security draft has not been released, however the legislative details which have been reported by state media, has led to concerns in Hong Kong as well as abroad as it is feared that some of its provisions could undermine the judicial independence of the semi-autonomous region.
On June 20, Chinese state news agency Xinhua published a part of the national security draft which among other things establishes that Central authorities will have jurisdictions over a small number of crime cases in Hong Kong that compromise with the national security.