立場新聞 Stand News

林洋鋐、彭皓昕:守法不等於法治 — 回應彭韻僖

2021/1/12 — 15:28

香港律師會會長彭韻僖

香港律師會會長彭韻僖

【文:林洋鋐、彭皓昕(律師)】

回應香港律師會會長於 2021 年法律年度開啓典禮的致辭:守法不等於法治
Article in Response to the President of the Law Society’s Speech at the Opening of the Legal Year 2021: Obeying the Law Is Not Equal to Rule of Law 
(Scroll for English)

2021 年 1 月 11 日,律師會會長彭韻僖於 2021 年法律年度開啓典禮發表致辭。她指有時不禁懷疑,作為香港市民是否需要以較多時間掌握這概念。彭又稱,對於有頗知名的法律執業者和學者公開提倡,守法並非法治的條件,以及有時守法更會違背法治原則一說法,她指「禁蒙面法」一案中提到,「香港一直被視為一個安全城市,卻史無前例地發生了持續的公眾暴力違法行為」。言論和和平集會的自由「十分珍貴,亦是民主社會的基石。但必須強調的是和平行使這些權利的基本重要性。」而集會、遊行、示威、言論和表達的自由,以及私隱權,都非絕對權利,而是可以受到合法限制。我們現以個人名義作出以下回應:

廣告

彭會長的致辭表面看似有理,但值得一問的是:其實什麼行為真正衝擊法治?

法治有不同的層次,不同的法理學家亦提出過不同的學說闡釋法治觀念,因而法治並沒有統一的定義。但這並不代表法治是一個各釋各義的概念。反而言之,法理學家之間對於法治均有一個共識:守法絕不等同於法治,而法治亦不止於被治者(governed)是否守法。更重要的課題是我們應守的法是又誰制定、制定法律的過程是否符合法治原則、執行法律的機關是否受到法律的約束等等。可惜,彭會長對於後者隻字不提。

廣告

更甚的是,假如法律的制定者、執行者和審判者均受政權所控制,而後者又不受法律的約束和權力的問責 — 這樣的法律,被治者還為何要守?在法治之前更重要的問題是何為法律,而法律的基本就是制約當權者的權利,以免被治者受到肆意的權力(arbitrary power),即「人治」,的侵害。

由此可見,對於法治而言,無權的被治者不管如何毋視法紀,他們對於法治的挑戰或衝擊委實有限。相反,當權者若不受法律的約束,肆意用權,才會對法治造成真正的衝擊。當彭會長引述「禁蒙面法」一案之時,我們不禁反問 — 那些「十分珍貴」的言論和和平集會的自由,在香港警察能夠蒙面執法、免受法律的約束和權力的問責的情況下,又如何能受法律保障?


Article in Response to the President of the Law Society’s Speech at the Opening of the Legal Year 2021: Obeying the Law Is Not Equal to Rule of Law

On 11 January 2021, the President of the Law Society (“the President“) gave a speech at Opening of the Legal Year 2021. She questioned whether Hong Kong people truly understand what the rule of law is, including some “eminent legal practitioners and scholars” who had said that obedience of the law is not necessary for the rule of law. But, quoting from a Court of Final Appeal judgement on the constitutionality of the chief executive's mask ban, she stressed the importance of the peaceful exercise of the freedoms of speech and assembly. She further said the court had noted that such freedoms are not absolute, and may be subject to lawful restrictions. We, in our personal capacity, express our concerns over the remarks of the President:

The President’s speech may appear at first glance as plausible, but it is worth asking: what, really, are the conducts that have trampled on the rule of law in Hong Kong?

The concept of the rule of law has been debated for centuries. There is no consensus on the content of the rule of law and scholars have remain heavily divided regarding the requirements of this concept.

Notwithstanding, what is beyond dispute is the fact that obeying the law is not equal to rule of law, and that rule of law lies beyond the governed’s obedience to the law. Therefore, the more important topics concern the issues of, inter alia, who owes the power of law-making, whether the process of law-making comply with the requirements of due process, and whether those who execute the law is bound by the law. Unfortunately, the President has made no effort whatsoever to address these issues of grave concern.

What’s more, consider the case when the political power has found to be extending its reach to the legislative, executive, and adjudicative branches. If such power does not adhere to the law, then why should the governed? At its most basic level the rule of law is the concept that both the government and citizens know the law. Law, by definition, seeks to prevent the arbitrary exercise of power according to the will and pleasure of the governors by holding them accountable to the law.

Compared with the governed, those abusing their public power to the detriment of the individual are the ones who truly trample on the rule of law in Hong Kong. As the President quoted the case on masks ban, one cannot help but ask: how can the fundamental freedoms of speech and assembly of Hong Kong people be protected when the Hong Kong police are nonetheless allowed to hide their identity, rendering it difficult, if not impossible, to hold them accountable for their acts?

 

*上述言論是以個人名義發表,並不代表香港律師會或其理事會的意見。We emphasise that anything said in this post is our personal opinion, and do not represent the views of the Law Society or Law Society Council.

發表意見