Hong Kong judiciary plans to accelerate protest trials

China’s State Media:

HONG KONG – Hong Kong’s judiciary has made plans to accelerate the process of dealing with the high volume of cases related to protests starting last June, including proposals to extend court hours at each level of court, Chief Justice of the Court of Final Appeal Geoffrey Ma Tao-li said Monday.

Delivering his last speech at the Ceremonial Opening of the Legal Year 2020 before retiring in January 2021, Ma said a task group has been set up for some time now to look into how best and how expeditiously the courts can cope with these cases.

Relevant stakeholders will be consulted on suggested measures, Ma said, stressing that while expedition is desirable, it is important to at the same time ensure a fair trial.

Nearly 7,000 people have been arrested for their roles in the violent unlawful protests since last June.

Noting that in the past seven months, Ma said Hong Kong has seen the rights set out in the Basic Law and Bill of Rights much exercised, including the freedom of speech, the freedom of association, assembly, procession, and demonstration.

“Accordingly, we see clear limits in the law to the exercise of rights. The enjoyment or insistence on one’s rights does not, for example, provide any excuse to harm other people or their property, or to display acts of violence,” Ma emphasized.

He called on everyone in the community to rightly cherish the rule of law, as it is the foundation of a cohesive society.

“We must do all our best to preserve it and to treasure it because once damaged, this is not something from which our community can easily recover,” Ma said. “I will always be committed to this. I am also fully confident that the community remains committed to the rule of law in Hong Kong.”

Source: China State Media

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Jan. 13, 2020