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以政治立場 DQ 參選人 踐踏港人參與選舉、投票、自由言論基本權利

2018/1/30 — 8:51

<The Progressive Lawyers Group’s Statement on the Disqualification of Nominees in the 2018 Legislative Council By-election> 

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1. 法政匯思對選舉主任在2018年立法會補選決定其中一位參選人(即周庭小姐)提名無效感到驚愕(「該決定」)。法政匯思亦對香港政府在面對傳媒提問時直接表示支持該決定(「該回應」)而感到極為失望。該決定不單不公正地剝奪了憲法上賦予該名被提名人的參選權,更不公平地限制了香港市民投票予心儀候選人的權利。

2. 法政匯思早在之前有關2016年立法會選舉的聲明中,強調參選權是一種基本權利。今天,我們重申:


(a) 根據《基本法》第二十六條,所有香港永久性居民均享有基本的選舉權和被選舉權。同樣地,《香港人權法案條例》 第二十一條規定,所有香港永久性居民, 無分任何區別(包括政見或其他主張 ),不受無理限制 ,均應享有投票及被選的權利及機會 。這些權利也受到《公民權利和政治權利國際公約》所保障。

(b) 再者,根據《基本法》第二十七條及《香港人權法案條例》第十六條,所有香港永久性居民皆享有言論自由的基本權利。


(c) 香港法院一向明確指出,任何對基本權利的限制都必須予以狹窄的解釋。因此,法政匯思認為「未能擁護《基本法》」及「未能向香港特別行政區效忠」的概念亦應該以狹窄的方式來詮釋。

3. 按字面解釋,《立法會條例》(第542章)第40(1)(b)(i)條內「一項示明該人會擁護《基本法》和保證效忠香港特別行政區的聲明」的規定為一項程序性的規定。該條例是否賦予選舉主任權利調查被提名人的思想狀態,以及可否對其簽署聲明時的真誠程度作出決定,我們對此存有極大疑問。但這個正正就是選舉主任於該決定中的作為。

4. 再者,選舉主任本應為政治中立的公務員,並獨立地作出被提名人是否符合提名程序的決定。政府在該回應中亦表示該決定是由選舉主任自行作出。然而,令人擔憂的是,該決定顯然是選舉主任根據律政司司長的法律意見作出的。律政司司長為政治任命官員,亦是政府行政機關的一部份。因此,我們對於選舉主任能夠獨立作出該決定,以及該決定沒有任何政治考慮的說法表示極大的懷疑。政府顯然有份參與該決定(及其他與提名有關的決定)的決策過程,卻把責任一乾二淨地推卸到選舉主任身上。

5. 更遺憾的是,該決定(及其他與提名有關的決定)的決策過程全不透明,官員作風獨斷,程序亦自相矛盾。選舉主任用以判定一個參選人是否真心「擁護基本法」及「誓言效忠香港特別行政區」的準則及證據完全不清晰。有些參選人即使沒有簽署所謂的確認書,但其提名亦被視為有效(例如司馬文先生),而有些參選人(例如姚松炎博士及陳國強先生)則被選舉主任要求在非常短的期限內回答一些看來與其政見有關,含糊及範圍廣闊的問題(而根據《香港人權法案條例》 第二十一條,這些事項與一個人有沒有資格參選是毫無關係的),更有其他人(例如周庭小姐)連就取消其資格所依賴的證據作出回應的機會都沒有,便直接取消其參選資格。這明顯違反程序公義的要求,並且不公平地破壞被提名人參選的權利。

6. 因此,法政匯思對於政府任意妄為地利用選舉規例,並以某些參選人的政治聯繫及政治立場為由取消其資格感到非常擔憂。該決定踐踏了香港永久性居民參與選舉、投票和自由言論的基本權利。我們強烈呼籲政府確保任何有關參選人提名的決定,都能夠切實有效地保障這些基本權利。


The Progressive Lawyers Group’s Statement on the Disqualification of Nominees in the 2018 Legislative Council By-election

1. The Progressive Lawyers Group (“PLG”) is highly dismayed by the decision of the Returning Officer to invalidate the nomination of a candidate (Ms Agnes Chow) for the 2018 Legislative Council By-election (“the Decision”). PLG is also enormously disappointed by the Hong Kong Government’s response to media enquiries (“the Response”), in which the Government explicitly supports the Decision. The Decision has not only unjustly deprived a candidate of the constitutional right to stand for election; it has also unfairly restricted the Hong Kong public’s right to vote for their preferred candidate.

2. In PLG’s previous statement regarding the 2016 Legislative Council election, we emphasised that the right to stand for election is a fundamental right. In the present context, we wish to reiterate that:

(a) Under Article 26 of the Basic Law, all Hong Kong permanent residents have the fundamental right to vote and the right to stand for election. Likewise, Article 21 of the Hong Kong Bill of Rights states that all Hong Kong permanent residents have the right and the opportunity to be elected without any distinction of any kind (including political or other opinion) and without unreasonable restrictions. These rights are also enshrined in the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.

(b) Further, all Hong Kong permanent residents have the fundamental right to free speech under Article 27 of the Basic Law and Article 16 of the Bill of Rights.

(c) The Hong Kong courts have made clear that any purported restriction on fundamental rights must be interpreted narrowly. It follows, in our view, that a narrow definition must be given to the concepts of ‘failing to uphold the Basic Law’ and ‘failing to pledge allegiance to the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region’.

3. The requirement under section 40(1)(b)(i) of the Legislative Council Ordinance (Cap. 542) for a “declaration to the effect that the person will uphold the Basic Law and pledge allegiance to the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region” is, on its face, a procedural requirement. It is highly questionable whether that subsection empowers the Returning Officer to investigate the nominees’ state of mind and then make a determination on their level of sincerity when signing the declaration. Yet that is precisely what the Returning Officer has done in the Decision.

4. Further, the Returning Officer is supposed to be a politically neutral civil servant who makes an independent decision on whether the nomination procedures have been fulfilled. Indeed, in the Response, the Government has portrayed the Decision as having been made by the Returning Officer. That being the case, it is alarming that the Returning Officer has based her Decision on legal advice from the Secretary of Justice ‒ who is a political appointee and part of the executive branch of the Government. In the circumstances, it is seriously doubtful whether the Returning Officer has made the Decision independently and in a manner that is free from political considerations. It also appears that the Government is trying to shift responsibility for the Decision (and other decisions relating to nominations) onto the Returning Officers, when in fact the Government itself participated in the making of those very decisions.

5. Even more regrettably, the process by which the Decision (and other decisions relating to nominations) were made is opaque, arbitrary, and inconsistent. It is wholly unclear what criteria and evidence would be used by Returning Officers in determining whether a candidate truly has an intention to ‘uphold the Basic Law’ and ‘pledge allegiance to the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region’. Some nominations have been held valid even though the candidate did not sign the so-called confirmation form (e.g. Mr Paul Zimmerman). Some nominees (i.e. Dr Edward Yiu and Mr James Chan) have been requested by the Returning Officer to answer, within a very short timeframe, vague and wide-ranging questions purportedly relating to their political stance (which under Article 21 of the Bill of Rights should be irrelevant to one’s eligibility to stand for election). Yet others (i.e. Ms Chow) have been disqualified without being given any opportunity to respond to the alleged evidence used to justify her disqualification. This clearly violates the requirements of due process, and unfairly undermines nominees’ right to stand for election.

6. Thus, PLG is gravely concerned by the capricious use of electoral regulations to disqualify certain candidates on the basis of their political affiliations and political stance. The Decision has trampled on the fundamental rights of Hong Kong permanent residents to stand for election, to vote, and to engage in free speech. We strongly call upon the Government to ensure that any decision regarding the nomination of candidates gives real and effective protection to such fundamental rights.

Progressive Lawyers Group
30 January 2018