Hello and welcome to The Pulse. When Justice Kemal Bokhary retired from the Court of Final Appeal in 2012, he warned of a “storm of unprecedented ferocity” gathering over rule of law in Hong Kong. Seven years on, the storm clouds have intensified. The Progressive Lawyers Group formed in 2015, in the wake of the Umbrella Movement, now includes more than 100 solicitors, barristers, law practitioners, law students and scholars as members. Two weeks ago, the group published its first “Hong Kong Rule of Law Report”. The 322-page bilingual report covers judicial issues, law enforcement, anti-graft initiatives, business, media, academia, individual rights, and events in other key areas last year. It also makes 60 recommendations for improving Hong Kong’s legal environment. With me is former convenos of the group, Craig Choy.
Welcome back. Rather predictably the nominally independent watchdogs, the Equal Opportunities Commission or EOC, and the Ombudsman’s office have faced considerable controversy arising from the way they handle human rights issues and how they interact with Hong Kong’s administration. This month both bodies acquired new leaders coming from disciplined service backgrounds. Human rights concern groups and lawmakers are worried about the suitability of these appointments.
On Wednesday, the District Court sentenced eight leaders of the Occupy Movement. The three co-founders of Occupy Central, Benny Tai, Chan Kin-man and Reverend Chu Yiu-ming received 16 month jail terms. Chu’s sentence was suspended for two years due to health issues. Legislator Shiu Ka-chun and the League of Social Democrat’s Raphael Wong were jailed for eight months. Democratic Party member, Lee Wing-tat and activist Eason Chung received suspended eight-month sentences, while Tommy Cheung was ordered to do 200 hours of community service. Legislator Tanya Chan’s sentencing has been adjourned until June as she needs surgery for a massive brain tumour. We’ll leave you with images of the scene outside the court on the day the sentences were handed down.
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