SCMP: Stricter bail conditions to apply to offenders under Hong Kong’s future national security law, justice minister says

  • Justice minister Paul Lam says stricter bail standards will not only apply to Beijing’s national security law but also those charged under future locally drafted legislation
  • Lam also compares US officials to rude and unreasonable character from popular Doraemon anime and manga series

Stringent bail thresholds will apply to suspects charged under a national security law that Hong Kong is required to enact by its mini-constitution, the justice minister has said, pointing to the “special nature” of the cases.

Secretary for Justice Paul Lam Ting-kwok on Sunday also sought to dismiss concerns over shifting legal boundaries in light of recent national security-related cases, including one involving an activist who was jailed for nine months for committing seditious acts in connection with a planned protest.

“If you look at one’s actual action, speech and background, I am confident that when common sense is used to interpret the spirit of the legislation, it’s not difficult to tell [where the boundary is],” he said in a televised interview.

Paul Lam, Hong Kong’s new secretary for justice. Photo: Nora Tam
Paul Lam, Hong Kong’s new secretary for justice. Photo: Nora Tam

The central government imposed a national security law on Hong Kong that targeted secession, subversion, terrorism and collusion with foreign forces after months of anti-government protests in 2019. But Article 23 of the Basic Law, the city’s mini-constitution, mandates that the local government pass its own bill protecting national security.

The initial draft of the legislation was shelved in 2003 after an estimated 500,000 people took to the streets in protest, but new Chief Executive John Lee Ka-chiu has vowed to resurrect the bill, which the pro-Beijing Legislative Council is expected to pass.

In his interview, the justice minister also addressed other concerns, such as the increasing use of colonial-era sedition charges and extended pretrial detentions, with the latter having become common practice under the national security law.

Read more