Two British judges quit Hong Kong’s top court – Asia Times

Two British judges quit Hong Kong’s top court - Asia Times

After lawmakers in the United States and the United Kingdom demanded sanctioning the city’s foreign judges and accused them of ratifying the government’s crackdown on political dissent, two non-permanent judges from Hong Kong’s Court of Final Appeal ( HKCFA ) have submitted their resignations. &nbsp,

English lawyer Joshua Rozenberg Houston broke the news that Lawrence Collins resigned as a non-permanent judge of Hong Kong’s highest court on Thursday. &nbsp,

According to Collins, I have left the Court of Final Appeal due to the political climate in Hong Kong, but I still have full confidence in the courtroom and the people ‘ complete freedom. &nbsp,

He declined to explain what social position concerned him. &nbsp,

Jonathan Sumption, who has served the Court of Final Appeal since 2019, told the Financial Times that he had also resigned. He promised to submit a declaration in due course. &nbsp,

The Committee for Freedom in Hong Kong ( CFHK) Foundation on May 14 released a report titled” Lending prestige to persecution: how foreign judges are undermining Hong Kong’s Freedoms and why they should quit.” The two judges resigned. Edward Carmichael, president of the All- Party Parliamentary Group on Hong Kong, hosted the record release.

According to the report, Sumption was involved in a 2021 situation that supported the widespread use of violence charges to arrest violent protesters.

Additionally, it stated that Collins took a leave of absence in September of 2021 when he and another courts were required to report their financial rewards to the Court of Final Appeal.

The two of them resigned after the United States ‘ Congressional-Executive Commission on China ( CECC ) called on the Biden administration to use the authority granted by the Hong Kong Human Rights and Democracy Act and the Hong Kong Autonomy Act to impose sanctions on prosecutors, judges, and other individuals who helped to undermine Hong Kong’s rights and autonomy.

The Hong Kong Judicial Sanctions Act, introduced by a number of US Representatives to keep Hong Kong authorities responsible for human rights violations, was demanded by the Congress. &nbsp,

Laws governing federal safety

After anti-extradition protests broke out in the former British colony between June 2019 and early 2020, Beijing passed a federal security law for Hong Kong in June 2020.

In September of the same year, veteran Australian judge James Spigelman resigned from the Court of Appeal citing concerns about the sweeping scope of the Laws governing federal safety. 

In a letter to The Times in March 2021, Sumption stated that Beijing’s demands for the revocation of European judges had nothing to do with criminal freedom or the rule of law but were meant to persuade it to change its position on politics.

He argued that judges ‘ participation in political protest was not a correct function.

Robert Reed and Patrick Hodge, two former UK Supreme Court judges, resigned from Hong Kong’s highest jury in March 2022 in response to American state force. &nbsp, &nbsp,

Serving people of the UK Supreme Court were prohibited from sitting on Hong Kong’s judge by Lord Reed, who argued that they had abdicated the country’s “values of political independence and freedom of expression.”

The UK state, according to finally Foreign Secretary Liz Truss, was against removing serving British judges from the HKCFA. Next Hong Kong government Chris Patten demanded the removal of British courts from Hong Kong’s major court in July 2023.

In his X account, Kevin Yam, a attorney and social activist who was wanted by Hong Kong authorities for crimes against national security, writes that Sumption and Collins are “probably the strongest commercial doctors of the foreign courts on HKCFA.” &nbsp,

According to Yam,” Collins was the prerogative of the commercial table in England,” while” Sumption was the prerogative of the commercial club in England.” Herbert Smith, a long-time partner of London dispute powerhouse, is a world-leading authority on conflicts of law issues. Their departures” a serious blow to the HKCFA’s bench of corporate cases.”

Roberto Ribeiro and Joseph Fok, the two regional permanent judges, are the first two to resign from the HKCFA, he claims. He claims that the HKCFA’s total caliber will change once they leave because there are no comparable candidates who Beijing considers socially acceptable to replace them. &nbsp,

Documents with dread

On Friday, Andrew Cheung, chief justice of the Court of Final Appeal said in a speech that he noted” with dread” the defections of Collins and Sumption. &nbsp,

He stated that the courts is dedicated to upholding Hong Kong’s judicial independence and rule of law.

The bar organization expressed regret over the defections of two prominent court courts, but added that the court’s administrative functions would not be affected by their departure.

According to Chan Chak-ming, leader of the Hong Kong Law Society, the organization supports keeping non-permanent courts from other countries in Hong Kong, as stated in the Basic Law.

Chief Executive John Lee expressed regret at the defections. According to Lee, Collins had stated that he still believed in the Court and that its people were completely independent.

Ta Kung Pao, a pro- Beijing news, said in its editorial on Friday that, although Collins claimed that he was concerned by the “political position” in Hong Kong, he really resigned due to the pressure from the UK. &nbsp,

It claimed that a smear campaign that sought to undermine Hong Kong’s judicial independence and undermine the foundation of the city’s rule of law included the publication of the CFHK report and the arrest of some Hong Kong Economic and Trade Office ( HKETO ) staff members last month. It stated that a plan like this is doomed to fail. &nbsp,

In March this time, the Hong Kong government passed new national security policy, known as Article 23 of the Basic Law. On May 28, it used the rules for the first time to jail six persons, including Chow Drop- Tung, a attorney and human rights activist who has been jailed on additional charges, for rebellion. &nbsp,

Read more: Hong Kong’s fresh safety laws concern overseas companies

Following Jeff Pao on X at&nbsp, @jeffpao3