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These new rules will also be overseen and enforced by a new mainland agency with the powers of the state behind it. The idea is that with these new powers, the agency would be able to take over some cases and operate in the city without falling under local jurisdiction. Released late on Tuesday night was a six-chapter (66 articles) full draft of the controversial legislation.
The full text was released only after it became effective in the city amid widespread concerns about its implications, despite official reassurances that only a small minority would be targeted.
It lists four categories of offences:
Secession – breaking away from the country
Subversion – undermining the power or authority of the central government
Terrorism – using violence or intimidation against people
Collusion with foreign or external forces or external elements to endanger national security.
Although the suggested sentence for some minor offences is less than three years’ in jail, the maximum penalty for each crime is life imprisonment.
However, some suspects can also be extradited to mainland China, but only for cases that involve “complicated situations”.
This is usually to do with interference by foreign forces; cases in which the local government cannot effectively enforce the law and ones where national security is under “serious and realistic threats”.
For those cases in which Beijing exercises jurisdiction, a mainland agency that will be established in Hong Kong to enforce national security will carry out investigations and the Supreme People’s Procuratorate will assign authorities to lead the prosecution.
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The Supreme People’s Court will assign courts to hear those cases.
Article 54 in the 66 article text, states the new agency, alongside the Office of the Commissioner of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Hong Kong and the local government, must adopt measures to “strengthen the management” of foreign non-governmental organisations and media agencies.
Furthermore, any details about a new national security commission and its operation will not be disclosed and its decisions are not subject to any judicial review.
If departments or local administration refused to cooperate with the new mainland agency, then severe questions will be raised.
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The law also grants wide powers to mainland agents stationed in Hong Kong.
Under Article 60, the officers and the vehicles they use to carry out their duties are not subject to checks by local law enforcement.
Professor Fu Hualing, law dean at the University of Hong Kong, said the provisions concerning Beijing’s jurisdictions over “very few cases” allowed for a large degree of discretion, which remained to be clearly defined.
“Once the central government takes over [jurisdiction], it takes away everything,” Fu said.
“There is a ‘nationalisation’ of certain crimes.”
“For the first time, national laws on criminal matters apply in Hong Kong and there is a built-in rendition.”
Critics across the world are viewing these developments as further attempts for China’s Communist Party (CCP) to enforce their laws on the people of Hong Kong and remove their autonomy and democratic right to freedom of expression.
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