POLITICAL PROTEST AND HONG KONG
By Richard Clayton QC
As the relationship between Hong Kong and the People’s Republic of China becomes more problematic, the Hong Kong courts have been confronted with some sensitive issues. Several recent court decisions have attracted considerable controversy. The former Lord Chancellor, Lord Falconer QC, published an open letter to The Guardian in October 2017, complaining that the rule of law was under threat in Hong Kong—because three activists convicted for illegal assembly were imprisoned by the Hong Kong Court of Appeal after earlier having been given community service, and the Court of Final Appeal (CFA) has now granted leave to appeal the sentences, subsequently, quashing the prison sentences and reinstating the community service orders imposed by the Magistrate. On 1 September 2017 the CFA refused permission to appeal against the conviction of two opposition legislators, who controversially refused to take the legislative oaths after being elected to the Legislative Council. The constitutional right to demonstrate has been extensively analysed in cases concerning the “Occupy Central” Campaign in the centre of Mongkok. Complaints that a few judicial review claims are politically motivated has led some to argue that legal aid should be cut back.
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