Radio Free Asia: Hong Kong Bar Association Claims the Proposal to Implement Article 23 of the Basic Law in Hong Kong Is Against International Human Rights Regulations
Radio Free Asia reported on December 10, 2002, that the Hong Kong Bar Association had responded to the proposed implementation of Article 23 of the Basic Law. The Bar Association stated that the proposal was not consistent with International Human Rights Laws and that its contents were ambiguous. The Bar Association, which published a report responding to the proposal item by item, criticized the government for nibbling away at the foundation of Hong Kong's law by trying to force the implementation of Article 23..
The report stated that the legislation of Article 23 should be based on a minimalist approach of "the less the better." Only those laws which are strictly necessary should be enacted. At the same time, it should conform to the International Human Rights Treaty and also should be unambiguous. The current proposal from the Hong Kong government, however, meets none of these three basic requirements.
The Bar Association expressed deep concern over the government's decision not to publish its draft of the legislation (i.e. the decision not to publish a White Paper, which would set forth the legislation's exact proposed wording for discussion, as opposed to the vague terms now available for discussion during the current so-called Consultation Period). The Bar Association explained that a White Paper must be made public before the legislation is passed to the legislative committee if the exercise of public consultation is to be made meaningful.
The President of the Hong Kong Bar Association, Liao Jiajie, said he didn't understand why the government has so resolutely refused to publish the a White Paper. He made an analogy that the Hong Kong government's attempting to force the implementation of Article 23 was like "dipping black shoes in ice water" -- the color would gradually faded as time goes by, meaning that Hong Kong's legal system would be gradually worn out.
In addition, the International Human Rights Organization and the Hong Kong Human Rights Monitor joined together to contact the United Nations Human Rights Affairs Office in writing, requesting a show of concern about the issue of implementing Article 23 of the Basic Law in Hong Kong. The two organizations also urged the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region government to respect human rights and to abide by the International Human Rights Treaty.