Beijing: Chinese officials have clarified that those facing charges for offences committed in Hong Kong will not be sent to China to face trial under the new security law to firm up Beijing’s hold over the former British colony.
China’s new national security law will be incorporated into Hong Kong’s legal system with built-in protections for offenders, who will not be sent across the border to mainland China to face trial, Hong Kong-based South China Morning Post quoted sources as saying.
The new law permits for the first time Chinese security agencies to open their establishments in Hong Kong.
However, the Hong Kong Bar Association has said China’s proposed new security law could run into problems in courts as Beijing has no legal authority to enact its national security law for the former British colony.
The association also expressed concern over suggestions that mainland security agencies would be set up to safeguard national security within the city, saying it was “entirely unclear” how that the arrangement would comply with Article 22 of the Basic Law, which stipulates that Beijing departments not to interfere in local affairs.
The new legislation establishing and improving the legal system and enforcement mechanisms for the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR) to safeguard national security is set to be passed by China’s National People’s Congress (NPC) on Friday.
The bill is regarded as a political bombshell for the former British colony as China has decided to bypass local Legislative Council to bring about a new national security law tailor-made to take control of Hong Kong which has been witnessing mass protests by pro-democracy groups since last year demanding autonomy and freedom from Beijing.
It has already provoked mass protests in Hong Kong as thousands took part in protests on Sunday.
Principles such as presumption of innocence and proof beyond reasonable doubt to validate a criminal conviction would be followed in related trials, the report said.
Earlier, planned legislation by the Hong Kong government to extradite those facing offences to China has attracted mass protests and agitations throughout last year paralysing the city.
“Offenders under the new law will face open trials in Hong Kong after the law is passed. They won’t be sent across the border to the mainland for trial,” the Post report said.
In mainland China, some national security trials have been heard behind closed doors because of political sensitivity.
The burden of proof would fall on prosecutors to obtain a conviction in national security trials, it said.