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法政匯思網誌│法政匯思就有關近期對司法機構不當抨擊之聲明

2016-2-24 18:09
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1. 我們留意到最近幾天有關司法制度的報導及評論:

(a) 第一類的評論是有關近期就一些示威的法庭判定(下稱「第一類陳述」):

(i) 上星期六(即2016年2月20日)網絡媒體《幫港出聲》張貼了一張圖像,圖像中有一名最近就2014年佔中案件發下刑罰的裁判官的照片。在裁判官照片旁邊有一段文字,先指「黃色」法官「不顧法治,只顧政治」,再指責「黃色」法官「在幫香港豢養暴徒縱容港獨...在破壞香港的社會安全繁榮基石」,最後以「香港人忍無可忍了,香港人從今日起會好好認住你們每一個,香港人相信法律公義就是不再相信你們!」作總結。

(ii) 在剛過去的星期二(即2016年2月23日),一名前廉政公署專員在《頭條日報》(之後再刊載於《大公報》)發表博客文章,質疑裁判官批准因2016年2月9日凌晨時分發生於旺角的事件(下稱「旺角事件」)而被起訴暴動罪的黃台仰保釋。博客文章結論指「整件事難免令人懷疑,這裁判官本身是不是「有問題」呢?我建議網民努力「起底」,看看有沒有足夠證明他和家人跟泛民政黨的關係,和他的政治取向。」。博客又指如果法官沒有申報自己或家人和他要處理案件的利益衝突,是一個非常嚴重的問題,涉及妨礙司法公正。

(iii) 另外,在星期一及二(即2016年2月22日及23日),有報導指全國港澳研究會在會上討論旺角事件。會上有參加者把旺角事件歸咎於以往司法機關的刑罰阻嚇力不足。有參加者更建議將有明顯政治傾向或動輒輕判的法官予以公布,周知社會大眾。

(b) 第二類的評論(下稱「第二類陳述」)牽涉到近日傳媒報導關於香港公務員在2015年10月在內地參與的國情班,當中前律政司司長、現任基本法委員會成員梁愛詩是其中一位講者。根據報導,她當時說香港的司法機關有超過一半是「外籍人士」,所以對中國就香港行使主權的認識不深,沒有從國家利益去考慮,掀起特區及中央政府之間的矛盾。梁女士並未有否認作出此陳述,亦未有把其收回。

2. 首先,有關第一類陳述:

(a) 我們重複我們在2015年3月30日有關抨擊司法機構的言論的聲明中列出的分析,即:

(i) 在自由社會,並非完全不能批評司法機構及法官。

(ii) 然而,當有人發表一些批評或一連串批評並旨在 (即具實際意圖或罔顧後果地) 藐視法庭或法官、損害其權威或干擾司法公正,並且造成該等效果的 真實風險,便可構成藐視法庭的刑事罪行。

(b) 第一類陳述,就如我們在2015年3月30日的聲明中列出的針對司法機構的批評一樣,既無合理分析,亦無證據支持。在一些言論中,有關人士更意圖威脅個別法官的私隱(以及甚至其安全)。就此:

(i) 我們認爲上方1(a)(i)及(ii)列出的陳述,以及1(a)(iii)有關建議對某些法官予以公布的陳述,可至少合理地被視為構成藐視法庭的刑事罪行。

(ii) 我們進一步認爲,如果執法機構採取與其近日就刑事罪行條例第161條「有犯罪或不誠實意圖而取用電腦」罪行一致的處理方法,上方1(a)(i)及(ii)列出的陳述亦可爭拗爲歸入有關罪行。然而,我們强調,提出這說法,並不表示我們認同執法機構近日就第161條的處理方法,我們只是提出如果採取一致的處理方法會有什麼後果。

3. 至於梁女士提出的第二類陳述 :

(a) 《基本法》明確規定及容許外籍法官的任命。《基本法》第81條訂明香港特別行政區成立後,原在香港實行的司法體制(我們認為應包括外籍法官的任命)予以保留。第82條明確規定終審法院可根據需要邀請其他普通法適用地區的法官參加審判。第92條亦訂明可從其他普通法適用地區聘用法官和其他司法人員。

(b) 我們認為梁女士作出外籍法官對中國就香港行使主權認識不深的評論並無根據。很多所謂「外籍法官」均於香港居住及工作多年(有些甚至數十年)的傑出法官,他們對於香港的認識不下於本地華人法官。再者,亦無任何實質證據顯示其他普通法適用地區的法官對中國就香港特別行政區行使主權缺乏認識。事實上,終審法院於1999年劉港榕案(Lau Kong Yong vs Director of Immigration)中,確定了人大常委會有獨立及完全權力解釋《基本法》的所有條文,而主要的判詞就是由前澳洲高等法院首席大法官梅師賢爵士所撰寫的。

(c) 無論如何,《基本法》第84條訂明香港特別行政區法院須依照「適用於香港特別行政區的法律審判案件」。換句話説,法官判案時要彰顯法治。如該等「適用於香港特别行政區的法律」涉及國家利益的因素,法院會給予充份的考慮。實際上終審法院亦曾於2011年「剛果案」中確定於香港特別行政區成立後,在決定主權豁免權的內容時須根據中國採用的原則而不是繼續沿用過去建立普通法的原則。除該等特定情況外,法院於基本法下的憲制責任就是依照法律審理案件,不管該等案件是否涉及國家利益的因素。

4. 總結來說,我們對於這些持續不停針對法院及法官所作的無知而甚或涉及刑事的攻擊(有時更是來自應該知道不應這樣做的有地位人士)深感悲痛。法治與司法獨立是香港穩定繁榮的基石。我們懇求所有人,無論是普羅大眾或有影響力或權力的人士,都深切謹記這個基本事實,不要再作任何言論或事情以破壞這基石。

法政匯思
2016年2月24日

STATEMENT OF THE PROGRESSIVE LAWYERS GROUP IN RESPONSE TO RECENT UNWARRANTED ATTACKS ON THE JUDICIARY

1. We refer to press reports and commentary in recent days as regards comments on the judiciary:

(a) The first category of such comments relate to decisions made by the judiciary in relation to protests (“Category One Statements”):

(i) On Saturday, 20 February 2016, online media outlet “Silent Majority” posted a graphic containing the photograph of a magistrate who recently handed down sentence in relation to an incident during the Occupy Central protests of 2014. Accompanying that photograph was text which accused “yellow” judges of “not caring about rule of law, only caring about politics”. The graphic further accused such judges of “letting off perpetrators of violence lightly and encourage Hong Kong independence”, “destroying Hong Kong’s social safety, being a bedrock of prosperity”. It then concludes that “Hong Kongers will tolerate this no further, and Hong Kongers will from today closely identify each one of you, Hong Kongers believe in legal justice but no longer believe in you!”

(ii) On Tuesday, 23 February 2016, a former officer of the Independent Commission Against Corruption published a blog post on the online version of “Headline Daily” (and subsequently published in Ta Kung Pao), questioning the granting the bail to Ray Wong Toi-yeung, who has been charged with riot in connection with events in Mong Kok in the early hours of 9 February 2016 (“Mong Kok Incident”). In the conclusion of the blog post, the blogger said: “One cannot help but have suspicions about this whole situation, is there a ‘problem’ with this magistrate? I suggest that netizens work hard to ‘uncover’, to see if there is enough proof that he and his family have connections with pan-democratic parties, as well as his political views.” He then added that if a judge did not declare any of his and his family members’ conflict of interest in cases he is handling, that is a “serious problem” constituting perverting the course of justice.

(iii) Also on Monday 22 February and Tuesday 23 February 2016, press reports referred to a Chinese Association of Hong Kong and Macao Studies conference on the Mong Kok Incident. It was reported participants at this conference have blamed the incident on past lenient rulings on judges, and that one participant even suggested publicising a list of judges with clear political inclinations and who regularly hand down light sentences.

(b) The second category of commentary (“Category Two Statements”) relate to recent press reports on a Hong Kong civil servants study tour to Mainland China in October 2015, during which former Secretary for Justice and current Basic Law Committee member Ms. Elsie Leung was a speaker. She was reported to have made comments to the effect that as over half of the judiciary in Hong Kong comprised of “foreigners”, the Courts do not have an in-depth understanding of China’s sovereignty over Hong Kong and have failed to consider issues from a national interest perspective. This is said to have led to conflicts between the Hong Kong and the Central Governments. Ms. Leung has not denied making such statements nor has she retracted from them.

2. Turning first to the Category One Statements:

(a) We repeat the analysis set out in our statement of 30 March 2015 in relation to comments attacking the judiciary, namely that:

(i) In a free society, Courts and judges are by no means immune from criticism.

(ii) However, where there is a real risk that certain comments or series of comments were calculated (i.e. such comments were made with actual intent or with recklessness) to bring a Court or judge into contempt or lower their authority or to interfere with the administration of justice, they would constitute criminal contempt of Court.

(b) As with the comments attacking the judiciary outlined in our 30 March 2015 statement, the Category One Statements do not contain any reasoned analysis, nor backed by any evidence. In some cases they even seek to threaten the privacy (and possibly even the safety) of individual judges. In this regard:

(i) We consider it at least reasonably arguable that comments set out in 1(a)(i) and (ii) above, as well as 1(a)(iii) in so far as they call for the “outing” of certain judges, constitute criminal contempt of Court.

(ii) We further consider that if law enforcement authorities are consistent in their approach to date in relation to the offence of “access to computer with criminal or dishonest intent” under section 161 of the Crimes Ordinance, then comments as set out in 1(a)(i) and (ii) above arguably also come under the purview of this offence. However, we emphasise that in making this point, we are not expressing agreement with law enforcement authorities’ approach to date on section 161, but merely noting the implications if a consistent approach was to be adopted.

3. As for Category Two Statements by Ms. Leung:

(a) Foreign judges are explicitly provided for and permitted under the Basic Law. Article 81 states that the judicial system previously practised in Hong Kong (which, in our view, includes the use of foreign judges) shall be maintained after the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region is established. Article 82 explicitly provides for the use of judges from other common law jurisdictions, while Article 92 states that judges may be recruited from other common law jurisdictions.

(b) There is no basis for suggesting that foreign judges do not understand China’s sovereignty over Hong Kong. Many of the so-called “foreign judges” are eminent jurists who have in fact lived and worked in Hong Kong for many years, sometimes decades, and to that extent are no less “local” than judges of Chinese ethnicity. More specifically, there is no evidence that judges from other common law jurisdictions lack understanding for Hong Kong’s position within China. Indeed, in the Court of Final Appeal’s 1999 ruling in Lau Kong Yong v Director of Immigration, a case which upheld the Standing Committee of the National People Congress’s freestanding and plenary power to interpret the Basic Law, the leading judgment was written by Sir Anthony Mason, a former Australian High Court Chief Justice.

(c) In any event, Article 84 of the Basic Law states that “[t]he Courts of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region shall adjudicate cases in accordance with the laws applicable in the Region…”. In other words, the rule of law applies. To the extent the “laws applicable” involve elements of national interest, this will be given due consideration. In its 2011 ruling in FG Hemisphere v Republic of Congo, the Court of Final Appeal ruled that after the establishment of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region, the law of sovereign immunity in Hong Kong follows the position adopted in Mainland China rather than the position under English common law. However, save in such circumstances, the Court’s constitutional duty is to adjudicate cases in accordance with law, national interest or not.

4. In conclusion, we are deeply saddened that ignorant and at times downright criminal attacks on Courts and judges (sometimes by eminent people who should know better) have continued unabated. The rule of law and the independence of our judiciary are cornerstones on which the stability and prosperity of Hong Kong is founded. We urge that everyone, from ordinary citizens to those in positions of influence or power, pay utmost heed to this fundamental fact, and not say or do anything which undermine these cornerstones.

Progressive Lawyers Group
24 February 2016

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【預算案】曾俊華「核心價值」沒提「民主」 有違張炳良12年前「原著」│范中流