National Security

Aussie judges courting disaster

July 10, 2023

James Campbell
The Herald Sun
Monday 10 July 2023

A Liberal senator is calling for four former High Court of Australia judges who work in Hong Kong’s court to quit working there.

It comes after authorities began a crackdown on pro-democracy advocates in Hong Kong, including offering a reward of $192,000 for the capture of two who live in Australia, including an Adelaide-based former politician.

Police announced bounties on Ted Hui, a former Hong Kong politician, and Australian lawyer Kevin Yam, who lives in Melbourne, last week.

In an unprecedented application of the Beijing-authored National Security Law chief superintendent Steven Li said Hong Kong’s police force “won’t stop chasing them”.

“We are absolutely not staging any show or spreading fear. We are enforcing law,” he said at a press conference.In recent days, Hong Kong police detained four men accused of helping activists who have fled overseas.

They have fallen foul of recent changes to national security laws in the city.In March last year, UK judges quit their roles on Hong Kong’s court of final appeal,because they worried their continued participation could be seen to endorse repression in the former UK colony.But former judges of Australia’s High Court, Murray Gleeson, Robert French, William Gummow and Patrick Keane, still hold appointments in Hong Kong.Senator James Paterson said the former Australian judges who serve on Hong Kong courts were eminent and respected legal figures.

“No doubt they have already reflected on the risks and value of their continued service in the Hong Kong justice system,” he said.“However, following the issuing of bounties on the heads of an Australian citizen and resident, I urge them to carefully reconsider.’’Senator Paterson said many other judges from common law countries had already resigned since the passage of Hong Kong’s harsh national security law.

“These bounties are yet more evidence that the Hong Kong justice system is no longer free and fair or independent of the Chinese Communist Party,’’ he said.“I am concerned the continued service of respected Australian legal figures on the courts gives people false comfort that they will be dealt with fairly if they ever face charges in Hong Kong.

“That’s a dangerous message to send when a fair trial can no longer be guaranteed, no matter who is serving on the court.” Mr Hui, a former Hong Kong pro-democracy MP who sought political asylum in Australia in 2021, said the charges and bounty were “ridiculous and hilarious”, and showed how “powerless” China’s ruling party was.

“It doesn’t affect my personal safety at all. I already have a number of arrest warrants against me under the National Security Law and (other laws),” he said.

“The CCP regime has noway of persuading Western democracies to extradite me. So I feel very safe here.”

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