1. 法政匯思強烈譴責選舉主任把劉小麗女士（「劉女士」）於2018年立法會（九龍西選區）補選的提名裁定為無效的決定 （「該決定」）。該決定不但不公地剝奪劉女士受憲法保障的參選權，亦不公平地限制了香港市民投票予他們所支持的候選人的權利。
2. 概括而言，選舉主任的決定建基於劉女士未有在其競選活動中放棄推動自決，而當中包括香港成為獨立國家的選項 。因此，他總結劉女士並不接受中華人民共和國擁有香港的主權 ，而且未能顯示她真誠地擁護《基本法》及效忠香港特別行政區的意圖 。
3. 需要注意的是，縱使劉女士已填妥擁護基本法的聲明 ，近來亦公開地表示反對香港獨立，及強調其對自決的支持是指達致以普選作行政長官選舉的方式 ，可是選舉主任仍作出以上的總結。劉女士以上的所有表述，皆被選舉主任視為免被取消參選資格的策略 。
4. 法政匯思重申，《香港人權法案》（「該人權法案」）第21條（參照公民權利和政治權利國際公約（「該公約」）第25條）訂明，所有香港永久性居民均享有在選舉中投票及參選的權利，不應作任何形式的區別（包括政治或其他意見）。 事實上，聯合國人權理事會在解釋該人權法案於該公約的相應條文時，特別闡明「政治意見不應被用以剝奪任何人參加選舉的權利的理由」 。我們認為，該決定違反第21條所載的原則。
5. 根據原訟法庭最近的一個判決 ，選舉主任一般應將提名表格內已簽署的聲明視為候選人真正有意維護《基本法》的有力證據。除非有有力證據客觀地明確顯示候選人沒有這個意圖，否則選舉主任不應作出不同結論 。由於選舉主任沒有給予劉女士正式簽署的聲明充分比重，他似乎未有遵守上述原則。
6. 更遺憾的是，該決定完全無視上述判決中重申的一個固有的原則：程序公平。根據程序公平原則，若選舉主任依賴任何材料來顯示被提名人沒有真正意圖去維護《基本法》，被提名人必須有充分機會來回應 。但選舉主任並沒有給予劉女士任何這樣的機會。必須指出的是，即便是支持香港獨立的陳浩天先生，選舉主任也不只一次、而是兩次詢問他對香港獨立的立場，才判定他的提名無效 。該決定顯然違反了這個已確立的法律原則。
7. 選舉主任以劉女士於兩年前簽署的一份聲明及她的臉書陳述作為主要理據，此做法形同以不明確的時限剝奪屬於劉女士基本權利之一的參選權。即使一名人士已經明確地和清楚地表達他/她不再支持香港獨立，他/她仍然會被視為該立場的支持者。劉女士所遭受的懲罰甚至比中國內地的相關法律更加嚴厲：因為根據中國內地法律，一個人需被裁定干犯嚴重的刑事罪行，才會被剝奪政治權利 ；現時劉女士並沒有干犯任何罪行。
1. The Progressive Lawyers Group (“PLG”) strongly condemns the decision of the Returning Officer to invalidate the nomination of Ms Lau Siu-lai (“Ms Lau”) for the 2018 Legislative Council (West Kowloon Constituency) By-election (“the Decision”). The Decision has not only unjustly deprived Ms Lau of her constitutional right to stand for election; it has also unfairly restricted the Hong Kong public’s right to vote for their preferred candidate.
2. In gist, the Returning Officer disqualified Ms Lau on the basis that she has not abandoned her campaign for self-determination which includes the option of turning Hong Kong into an independent country. Accordingly, he concluded that Ms Lau does not accept the sovereignty of the People’s Republic of China over HKSAR and has failed to manifest a genuine intent to uphold the Basic Law and to pledge allegiance to the HKSAR.
3. It must be noted that the Returning Officer reached the above observation despite the fact that Ms Lau has duly made the statutory declaration to uphold the Basic Law, openly expressed her disapproval of independence of Hong Kong recently and stressed that her support for self-determination meant achieving the selection of the Chief Executive by universal suffrage. All these representations were regarded by the Returning Officer as a strategy to avoid being disqualified from the election.
4. The PLG wishes to reiterate that Article 21 of the Hong Kong Bill of Rights (“HKBoR”) (cf. Article 25 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (“ICCPR”)) provides that all Hong Kong permanent residents have the right to vote and stand for election without any distinction of any kind (including political or other opinion). Indeed, the Human Rights Committee of the United Nations has specifically made clear that “political opinion may not be used as a ground to deprive any person of the right to stand for election” when explaining the identical counterpart of HKBoR in the ICCPR. In our view, the Decision runs contrary to the principle enshrined under Article 21.
5. According to a recent decision of the Court of First Instance, a returning officer should generally regard a signed declaration in the nomination form as a strong proof of a candidate’s genuine intent to uphold the Basic Law. The returning officer should only conclude otherwise if there is compelling evidence which plainly shows objectively that the candidate does not have such intention. It does not appear the Returning Officer has adhered to the above principle by failing to give sufficient weight to Ms Lau’s duly signed declaration.
6. Even more regrettably, the Decision was made in complete disregard of the entrenched principle of procedural fairness reiterated in the Court decision just referred to. Procedural fairness dictates that a nominee must be given a reasonable opportunity to respond to any materials that the Returning Officer regards as negating a genuine intention on the part of the nominee to uphold the Basic Law. Ms Lau has not been offered such an opportunity at all. It must be noted that even Mr Andy Ho Tin Chan, an outright pro-independence activist, was approached by another returning officer, not once, but twice, to enquire about his position on the independence of Hong Kong before his nomination was eventually invalidated. The Decision clearly contravenes such well established legal principle.
7. The reasoning of the Returning Officer premised upon a statement signed by Ms Lau and her Facebook post 2 years ago effectively deprives Ms Lau of her fundamental rights to stand for election for an unspecified period of time. One would still be considered a supporter of independence of Hong Kong even if s/he later expressly and clearly retracts from such position. The sanction on Ms Lau is even more draconian than that under the laws of Mainland China which would have required a conviction for a serious criminal offence to deprive a person of his/her political rights. Here, Ms Lau has not committed any offence.
8. The PLG notices that Ms Lau has already clarified her stance on self-determination. In any event, whether advocating the abstract idea of self-determination amounts to contravention of the Basic Law is highly doubtful.
9. The previous statement of the PLG dated 30 January 2018 on the disqualification of Ms Agnes Chow in another by-election concerning the same issue remains valid and can be largely applied to the present case. The PLG demands that in making a decision, any Returning Officer should (a) allow all candidates to respond to any materials the Returning Officer may rely on in the decision-making process; and (b) afford due weight to the relevant provisions under the HKBoR. Fellow Hong Kong people and civil society groups should remain vigilant against any attempt by the Government to deprive of the fundamental rights of any resident and should voice out against any such attempt to prevent any further erosion of the freedom and fundamental rights of Hong Kong people.
Progressive Lawyers Group
15 October 2018
(PDF Version (with footnotes): https://goo.gl/KCa973 )