Govt appeals court's ban on anti-mask law

Updated: 2019-11-26 07:58

By Kathy Zhang in Hong Kong(HK Edition)

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High Court's ruling against necessity rebutted; rights of protesters 'unabridged'

The Hong Kong SAR government on Monday submitted documents to the Court of Appeal to apply for an appeal against the court's ruling on the city's anti-mask law.

The Court of First Instance of the High Court on Nov 18 ruled that the anti-mask law, introduced under the city leader's emergency powers in early October, was unconstitutional.

Chief Executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor in early October invoked the Emergency Regulations Ordinance in a bid to help the city's beleaguered police force quell increasingly violent and protracted social unrest.

The judge's explanation is that the provisions of the Emergency Regulations Ordinance, which empower the chief executive to make related regulations under certain circumstances, were inconsistent with the city's Basic Law and that the main elements of the anti-mask regulation was found to be disproportionate to the situation.

The government pointed out in the filed documents that there is a reasonable necessity to introduce the anti-mask law to protect the city's residents under such chaotic and violent circumstances.

Moreover, under the anti-mask law, the restrictions on rights and freedom are limited and they won't abridge the rights of people who participate in lawful assemblies, according to the documents.

The government hopes that the Court of Appeal can accept that the law is necessary for the city under the current situation as there is still large space to discuss whether the situation is in line with the definition of "jeopardizing public safety".

Violent protests imposed more pressure on front-line police officers and led to the shortage of human resources, and the privacy of people who got involved in violence and vandalism doesn't need to be protected, the documents read.

In Hong Kong the High Court is made up of the Court of Appeal and the Court of First Instance. It has both appellate and original jurisdiction, that is, it can both hear appeals sent to it and try cases first taken to it.

(HK Edition 11/26/2019 page4)