Earlier this month, 55 opposition figures were arrested by the Hong Kong police under the draconian National Security Law, which, the new head of Hong Kong’s Bar Association Paul Harris has described as a clear attempt to intimidate the city’s democratic movement.
Harris also warned against attacks on his colleagues in pro-Beijing media.
He raised concerns over the oppressive security law and said he was keen to rebuild a dialogue with the mainland, as he set out his vision for the association’s future.
“We should remember that at the moment a lot of countries have suspended extradition agreements with Hong Kong, which means a murderer can avoid justice by moving to Hong Kong from London or from Hong Kong to London,” he said.
Over 50 opposition lawmakers and activists were arrested on suspicion of violating the authoritarian national security law, for their part in a primary election run-off last July. Among the arrested were former lawmakers James To Kun-sun, Lam Cheuk-ting, Andrew Wan Siu-kin, Alvin Yeung Ngok-kiu and Wu Chi-wai, as well as pollster Dr Robert Chung Ting-yiu, who helped organise the event.
“So to arrest them all was, to my mind, deliberate intimidation of the democratic movement,” he said and added, “I found the national security law profoundly offensive because it said certain people’s actions can’t be challenged in the court of law.”
“I believe that the essence of the rule of law is that whoever you are, the law is above you,” he said.
According to the authoritarian security law, a principal offender convicted of subversion faces imprisonment of 10 years to life, while an “active participant” can be sentenced to between three and 10 years’ jail, while a minor can face a fixed term of not more than three years’ imprisonment or short-term detention or restriction.