Transcript of remarks by CE at media session (with video)
Chief Executive: Regarding the Court of Appeal rulings on two sentence review cases last week, I want to make three very important points.
First is rights and freedoms of Hong Kong people are protected under the Basic Law, but the exercise of these rights and freedoms, as pointed out by the court, is not without limit. They have, first of all, to be law-abiding. So in these two cases, what we are dealing with are not political persecutions or persecutions on the basis of expression of views, but they are unlawful acts or even acts involving violence.
The second point I want to make is the rule of law is absolutely essential to the successful implementation of "one country, two systems" and the continued prosperity and stability of Hong Kong. Indeed, under Basic Law Article 63, prosecution decisions are made by the Department of Justice without any interference. So, any allegation that the Secretary for Justice himself or the Department of Justice has made decisions to review the sentences on political grounds is totally unfounded.
The third point I want to make is even more important, and that is the independence of the judiciary. Under Basic Law Article 85, our courts are exercising judicial powers independently, free from any interference. So any allegation that in these particular cases that judges in the Court of Appeal have made decisions under political interference again is totally unfounded. So I feel duty bound, as the Chief Executive of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region, to make it very clear that there's absolutely no political interference, both in the prosecution, in the review of sentence and in the judgments and rulings handed down by the Court of Appeal.
Reporter: Mrs Lam, I am sure a lot of people are concerned with the question whether Rimsky Yuen actually he himself took the view that he needs to appeal against the sentences and he is the only one who decided to overrule that? Are you aware of the fact that he’s got to make a decision before the sentence is submitted to the court? And what do you make of the fact that the majority of the five student leaders you talked to during the Occupy Movement are actually jailed right now? Is that the way you wish to communicate with the youth?
Chief Executive: Well, as far as the first question is concerned, I have already responded in Cantonese - I just repeat what I have said. I said, in every healthy organisation there will naturally be differences in opinion, there will naturally be deliberations and debates before a decision is made, so this is only natural. But I have not been involved in discussions on the making of prosecution decisions, so I could not confirm or clarify what actually has taken place in this particular case. What I have said that this is only natural and it would be totally unfair to target the Secretary for Justice. Even if the decision is made by him, it is made in accordance with the law, in accordance with the evidence that they possessed, and also in accordance with the prosecution guidelines that the Department of Justice had been adopting for many years. I was a person involved during the constitutional development debate when these incidents took place and I was actually involved in an open debate with five of the student leaders including the two who are now involved in this sentence review. It’s not a question of what I want to see as an outcome, it’s a question of the rule of law. If people have offended and breached the law, then they have to accept the consequence, and this consequence is handed down by the court, and the court acts independently without any interference in arriving at that decision. But of course our judicial process allows for further appeal, so as far as I understand, those involved are perhaps contemplating an appeal, so I would not go into the details of this case anymore.
(Please also refer to the Chinese portion of the transcript.)
Ends/Monday, August 21, 2017
Issued at HKT 20:57
Issued at HKT 20:57
Audio / Video
CE meets the media