Chief Executive Carrie Lam has, several times, lamented that many Hong Kong people still do not understand the “new constitutional order” or do not accept the way it operates under One Country, Two Systems. Last month, China’s Chief Justice Zhou Qiang warned the country’s judges not to fall into the “trap” of Western ideologies such as constitutional democracy and separation of powers, and encouraged them to denounce the idea of an independent judiciary. A recent report by the World Justice Project ranks the fairness of the PRC’s judicial system 75th out of 113 countries. Hong Kong was in 16th place. But suggested amendments to Hong Kong’s extradition laws may have the effect of sending the SAR down in the rankings. With us to discussion that issue is Philip Dykes, Chairman of the Hong Kong Bar Association.
The Law Reform Commission says, in its recent consultation paper on archives law, that well-managed archives and records are central to good governance.
Anyone who has tried to get access to many of those records, particularly on politically contentious subjects, will have found that the Hong Kong government appears to take another view. Researchers, scholars, activists, journalists, not forgetting ordinary members of the public will know how difficult it can be to access information from Hong Kong government records. Government records and archives management is the responsibility of the Government Records Service. However, there is no archive law and no penalties for malpractice in disposing of government documents. Between 2013 to 2016, a total of more than 360 million records were approved for destruction. A consultation on a potential archives law is underway, ending on March 5th, but not everyone’s convinced the government wants a law with teeth.
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