Rights success in Hong Kong

THE Law Society of Hong Kong says it has won partial concessions in its bid to secure the protection of civil liberties after the colony's handover – but its new president has warned his members that they must continue to fight for more safeguards.

Anthony Chow, the newly-elected president of the Law Society of Hong Kong, said the society has played an important role in shaping draft regulations which propose changes to the island's current public order laws.

He said around 60 per cent of the recommendations contained in the society's response to a consultation document on the proposed changes, which was issued by the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR), had been adopted in the draft bill.

He said a key concession was a clear definition of “national security”, threats to which would allow civil liberties to be severely curtailed. However, the definition is not part of the bill but appears in guidelines.

Chow said that this was not entirely satisfactory, but added it was a step towards preventing “too wide an interpretation of the term”.

He said he was still concerned that in the draft bill there remained a requirement for societies to register with the authorities and obtain a “notice of no objection” from the commissioner of police 48 hours in advance of a procession.

He said: “It would have been nice if all our proposals had been accepted, but it is encouraging to see that our document has not fallen on deaf ears and that HKSAR will listen to us.”