British Judge Condemns Hong Kong Rule of Law Erosion

British judge Jonathan Sumption, who recently resigned from Hong Kong's top appeals court, criticized the erosion of the rule of law, citing government interference and security laws curtailing judicial freedom. Sumption's resignation, alongside another British judge, has cast doubts on foreign jurists' role in safeguarding Hong Kong’s legal integrity.

Reuters | London | Updated: 10-06-2024 21:49 IST | Created: 10-06-2024 21:49 IST
British Judge Condemns Hong Kong Rule of Law Erosion
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  • United Kingdom

The rule of law in Hong Kong is "profoundly compromised" in areas of the law where the government has strong opinions, a British judge who recently resigned from the top Hong Kong appeals court said on Monday. Jonathan Sumption is one of two British judges who resigned last week shortly after a landmark verdict in which 14 prominent democratic activists were convicted for subversion amid a national security crackdown on dissent.

The resignations have damaged the idea that having foreign jurists on Hong Kong's top court helps protects the rule of law and the city's international image. Writing in the Financial Times, Sumption said judges' freedom had been curtailed by security laws, that China was willing to reverse court decisions if it didn't like them, and that Hong Kong authorities were paranoid about political dissent.

"Hong Kong, once a vibrant and politically diverse community is slowly becoming a totalitarian state. The rule of law is profoundly compromised in any area about which the government feels strongly," Sumption wrote in an editorial publish on the Financial Times website. Britain, which handed Hong Kong back to China in 1997, has said security law that punishes offences like subversion with up to life imprisonment has been used to curb dissent and freedoms. Chinese and Hong Kong authorities say the law is necessary and has brought stability.

Explaining his eventual decision to resign, Sumption said: "I remained on the court in the hope that the presence of overseas judges would help sustain the rule of law. I fear that this is no longer realistic. Others are less pessimistic. I hope that they are proved right."

(This story has not been edited by Devdiscourse staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

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