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Hong Kong refutes the UK Judge’s Allegation of a Compromised Legal System.

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Following the conviction of 47 pro-democracy activists and politicians, British judge Jonathan Sumption resigned from the territory’s top court last week, expressing worries over the erosion of judicial independence. Hong Kong has strongly objected to Sumption’s remarks. Sumption resigned in 2020, following the resignation of fellow British judge Lawrence Collins, following a landmark decision made in accordance with Beijing’s National Security Law.

Sumption’s analysis, which was published in the Financial Times, said that the ruling was a sign of a “growing malaise” in Hong Kong’s judiciary and that it was functioning in an oppressive political environment that China had fostered. He emphasized topics like the National Security Law and brought back sedition statutes from the colonial era, which he claimed significantly limited judicial freedom and resulted in severe punishments for dissent.

The administration of Hong Kong has angrily refuted these allegations, claiming that its court is independent. Chief Executive John Lee stressed in a thorough statement on Tuesday that Hong Kong’s Basic Law protects the prosecutorial and judicial branches, which are immune to Beijing’s influence. Lee emphasized that one’s own political beliefs should not impede one’s ability to carry out judicial duties by accusing the UK of politicizing judicial power in order to target China and Hong Kong.

The resignations of Collins and Sumption, who both expressed dissatisfaction with Hong Kong’s political system, highlight persistent problems. Following the 2019 pro-democracy demonstrations and the ensuing National Security Law, Hong Kong has tightened election regulations and witnessed the arrest or expulsion of a number of pro-democracy activists. The authorities in Beijing and Hong Kong insist that these actions have brought stability back, notwithstanding recent developments.

In a similar development, it was announced by former Canadian Chief Justice Beverley McLachlin that she will leave Hong Kong’s top court in July, ending a long-standing common law jurisdiction tradition of having a lower number of non-permanent outside justices on the bench. In her farewell remarks, McLachlin, who has come under fire for her choice to stay on the court, reiterated her faith in the impartiality of the court.

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