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就中央對一國兩制的嚴重威脅及香港政府針對民主派人士搜捕的聲明

2020/4/20 — 19:14

中聯辦(資料圖片)

中聯辦(資料圖片)

Statement of the Progressive Lawyers Group on Beijing’s Serious Threat to ‘One Country, Two Systems’ and the Hong Kong Government’s Mass Arrest of Pro-democracy Activists
(scroll for English)

1. 中央人民政府駐香港特別行政區聯絡辦公室(下稱「中聯辦」)於2020年4月17日發出一項聲明(下稱「417聲明」),其中包括:

「國務院港澳辦和香港中聯辦是中央授權專責處理香港事務的機構,不是基本法第二十二條所指的一般意義上的“中央人民政府所屬各部門”,當然有權代表中央政府,就涉及中央與特區關係事務、基本法正確實施、政治體制正常運作和社會整體利益等重大問題,行使監督權,關注並表明嚴正態度。這不僅是履職盡責的需要,也是憲法和基本法賦予的權力。」

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2. 417聲明重複了中聯辦、國務院港澳事務辦公室(下稱「港澳辦」)於4月13日就反對派議員發出的聲明裏各種指控及批評。中聯辦點名抨擊「郭榮鏗等」以「拉布」手段阻礙立法會程序,更稱該行為已經違背其就職誓言,並可能構成「公職人員行為失當」普通法罪行。

法政匯思於2020年4月15日發文反駁,表示該等言論是對香港特區政府行政、立法和司法機關的衝擊,也違背《基本法》。

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3. 法政匯思就417聲明深感憂慮。該言論扭曲《基本法》關鍵條款、違背「一國兩制」的精神,為中央政府故意且公然干預本港事務。

《基本法》第22(1)款內容清楚說明:

中央人民政府所屬各部門、各省、自治區、直轄市均不得干預香港特別行政區根據本法自行管理的事務。」(強調後加)

而香港法例第1章《釋義及通則條例》第3條明確定義中聯辦為「中央人民政府在香港特別行政區設立的機構」。

4. 因此,417聲明不但在法律上徹底錯誤,而且顯出中央之厚顏及其違憲地擴大中聯辦、港澳辦的權力之意圖,好讓北京緊緊掌控本港。

417聲明實倒行逆施。反送中修例運動產生的社會動盪持續已久,中央政府選擇這時間就其政治企圖針對《基本法》玩弄語義,讓人如何恢復對「一國兩制」的信心?

5. 香港政府不但無糾正中央政府對22條的扭曲,反匆匆於2020年4月19日發表草率的新聞稿(下稱「該新聞稿」),迎合417聲明。香港政府在其新聞稿中毫無解釋或分析,直稱中聯辦不是《基本法》第二十二條第二款所指「中央各部門在香港特別行政區設立的機構」。

6. 該新聞稿偏離特區政府一直以來的立場,牴觸政府過去的文件和言論:

a) 2007年1月,特區政府向立法會提供一份有關「在《基本法》第二十二條下中央人民政府在香港特別行政區成立的機構」的資料文件,而該文件將中聯辦、外交部駐香港特別行政區特別派員公署和中國人民解放軍駐香港部隊一併列為該類機構;及

b) 2018年1月,政制及內地事務局局長聶德權在回應立法會議員提問時表示:「我們亦相信中聯辦會一如既往,根據《基本法》第二十二條訂明,遵守香港特別行政區的法律」。

7. 我們留意到特區政府在數小時內曾兩度更改該新聞稿,該新聞稿最早的版本一度指出「中聯辦是中央政府在香港特别行政區根據《基本法》第22條第二款設立的三個機構之一」,此說法在其後的版本中被突然刪去。

8. 特區政府附和中聯辦對基本法錯誤的理解,主動削弱香港自治權,法政匯思對此深感遺憾。事件反映特區政府傾向靠攏中央政府,而外界對政府盲目遵從北京當局政治命令、罔顧本港利益的印象只會有增無減。

9. 雪上加霜地,在發出衝擊憲法的417聲明的同一周內,香港警察拘捕了15名著名民主派人士,並以組織及參與未經批准集結等公安條例罪名控告他們。被捕者包括民主黨創黨主席資深大律師李柱銘先生、作家兼著名大律師吳靄儀女士、及壹傳媒創辦人黎智英先生。

10. 香港警察特地挑出該15名人士(相關集會有成千上萬參與者),顯示其大搜捕行動經過計算 —— 是當局為懲罰民主派人士的政治信念而安排的樣辦,以報復該等人士參與反送中修例運動,及以恐吓形式阻止廣大市民行使其憲制保障的集會權利。

11. 雖然法政匯思確信該15名被捕者會在法院獲得公平審訊,但不能改變的事實是,該大搜捕行動是不合理及帶有報復性的,是警察國家式的惡意拘捕及選擇性檢控行爲。

12. 法政匯思呼籲香港特別行政區政府為香港市民站起來,抵抗北京對香港日益增長的干預。香港享有的公民自由和高度自治權,令香港得以成為國際金融樞紐,我們亦呼籲國際社會更關注香港的局勢,為反對持續侵蝕該等權益發聲。

法政匯思
2020年4月20日

Statement of the Progressive Lawyers Group on Beijing’s Serious Threat to ‘One Country, Two Systems’ and the Hong Kong Government’s Mass Arrest of Pro-democracy Activists

1. On 17 April, the Liaison Office of the Central People’s Government in the HKSAR (the “Liaison Office”) issued a statement (the “4/17 Statement”) that declared, among other things, that:

“The Hong Kong and Macao Affairs Office of the State Council (the “HKMAO”) and the Liaison Office are agencies specifically authorised by the Central People’s Government (the “CPG”) to handle local affairs in Hong Kong. As a general matter, these offices are not considered “departments of the CPG” under Article 22 of the Basic Law (the “BL”) and as such they are empowered to exercise supervisory powers and take a views over various Hong Kong affairs, including matters concerning the HKSAR’s relations with the CPG, the appropriate implementation of the BL, the proper functioning of its political framework, and major issues affecting public interest. This is as much a part of the offices’ duties as it is within the respective powers conferred to them under China’s Constitution and the BL.”

2. The 4/17 Statement went on to reiterate the same allegations and criticisms made by the Liaison Office and the HKMAO in several coordinated statements issued on 13 April against opposition lawmakers in Hong Kong. The Liaison Office blasted “the likes of Dennis Kwok” for using filibuster tactics to paralyse the Legislative Council (“LegCo”), which it said was a breach of the official oath and amounted to the common law offence of “misfeasance in public office.”

In response to those earlier remarks made by the Liaison Office and the HKMAO, the Progressive Lawyers Group (the “PLG”) issued a rebuttal on 15 April calling them an affront to all three branches of the HKSAR government and a breach of the BL.

3. The PLG is gravely troubled by the 4/17 Statement. We believe it represents a blatant and deliberate attempt by the CPG to interfere in Hong Kong’s local affairs by distorting key provisions of the BL and disregarding the spirit of the “one country, two systems” framework enshrined therein.

The wording of Article 22(1) of the BL is clear:

No department of the CPG and no province, autonomous region, or municipality directly under the Central Government may interfere in the affairs which the HKSAR administers on its own in accordance with this Law.” (emphasis added)

Section 3 of the Interpretation and General Clauses Ordinance (Cap. 1) (the “IGCO”) also makes clear that the Liaison Office is one of the “offices set up by the CPG in the HKSAR.”

4. As such, the declaration in the 4/17 Statement is not only legally wrong but also brazen in its intention to tighten Beijing’s grip on the city by unconstitutionally expanding the powers of the Liaison Office and the HKMAO.

The 4/17 Statement is also counterproductive. Following a protracted period of social unrest engendered by the controversial extradition amendment bill, the CPG’s attempt to justify its political ends by playing semantics with the BL will do nothing to restore public faith in the “one country, two systems” framework.

5. Instead of refuting the CPG’s erroneous views on Article 22, the HKSAR Government issued a hastily-written press release on 19 April (“Press Release”)concurring with the 4/17 Statement. In the Press Release, the HKSAR Government stated flatly, without explanation or analysis, that the Liaison Office was “not an office in the HKSAR set up by departments of the CPG’ as stated in Article 22(2) of the BL”

6. The Press Release deviates from the HKSAR Government’s long-held position and contradicts its own documents and speeches. For example:

a) in January 2007, the HKSAR Government issued an information note to the LegCo on “offices set up in the HKSAR by the CPG under Article 22 of the BL.” The note listed the Liaison Office, along with the Office of the Commissioner of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of PRC in HKSAR and the People’s Liberation Army Hong Kong Garrison as examples of such offices; and

b) in June 2018, Patrick Nip, Secretary for Constitutional and Mainland Affairs, responded to a lawmaker’s question at a LegCo proceeding: “We believe that [the Liaison Office] will, as always, follow the laws of HKSAR in accordance with the requirement stipulated in Article 22 of the Basic Law.”

7. We also note that hours before the Press Release, the HKSAR Government issued two earlier versions of the Press Release, the first of which referred to the Liaison Office as “an office set up by the CPG in the HKSAR under Article 22(2) of the BL.” That statement was abruptly deleted in the later versions.

8. The PLG is deeply disappointed by the HKSAR Government’s readiness to go along with the Liaison Office’s erroneous interpretation of the BL at the expense of Hong Kong’s autonomy. The HKSAR Government’s tendency to side with the CPG only works to confirm the perception that it blindly carries out political directives from Beijing without regard for the city’s interests.

9. To rub salt in the wound, within the same week of the constitutional bombshell sparked by the 4/17 Statement, the Hong Kong Police arrested 15 prominent pro-democracy activists and charged them with public order crimes including organizing and participating in an illegal assembly. Among the arrested were Martin Lee, S.C., the founding chairperson of the Democratic Party, Margaret Ng, author and prominent barrister, and Jimmy Lai, founder of One Media.

10. That the 15 individuals had been singled out by the Hong Kong Police (when hundreds of thousands of others also took part in the relevant assemblies) suggests that the mass arrest is a calculated move—a political spectacle staged by the authorities to punish pro-democracy activists for their political beliefs, exact retaliation for their involvement in the anti-extradition bill protest movement, and intimidate the general public from exercising its constitutionally protected right of assembly in future protests.

11. While the PLG is confident that the 15 arrestees will receive a fair trial in the court of law, it doesn’t alter the fact that the mass arrest is unjustified, vindictive and smacks of the kind of malicious arrest and selective prosecution suggestive of a police state.

12. The PLG calls on the HKSAR Government to stand up for the people of Hong Kong and push back on Beijing’s growing intervention. We call on the international community to pay closer attention to the situation in Hong Kong and speak up against the continued erosion of civil liberties and the high degree of autonomy that makes the city one of the world’s preeminent financial hubs.

The Progressive Lawyers Group
20 April 2020

 

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