Judges Disillusionment with Hong Kong's High Courts

Judges Disillusionment with Hong Kong's High Courts
Photo by Saúl Bucio via Unsplash



Marc Luetz


China and Human Rights Researcher 


Global Human Rights Defence


The Hong Kong handover, on the 1st of July 1997, marked the beginning of a transition that would see the integration of the former British colony into the People's Republic of China. A transition that in accordance with the principle of  "One country, two systems" agreed on between the United Kingdom and the People's Republic of China would ensure the continuation of the freedoms, social and justice system and guarantees it enjoyed as a colony until 2047. This period of 50 years, in which the citizens of Hong Kong were to enjoy certain guarantees they had as a colony has gradually been systematically undermined by Beijing, as characterized by the Hong Kong national security law passed in 2020.

However, recent developments surrounding Hong Kong’s highest court have cast a dark shadow over the value and applicability of the "One country, two systems" principle. Two Judges from Britain in the last week, resigned from the Hong Kong Court of Final Appeals. A court that “hears many of the territory's highest profile cases, often ruling on key questions over civil and political liberties” (Sands, 2022). The judges took this decision as they felt that the Court of Final Appeals no longer had the authority or impact to act decisively or correctly. Rather that the court as in the words of one of the Judges that they could not “continue to sit in Hong Kong without appearing to endorse an administration which has departed from values of political freedom, and freedom of expression, to which the justices of the supreme court are deeply committed” (Siddique & Davidson, 2022). The decision to withdraw from Hong Kong, an act supported by the British government and foreign office, is a clear indication of the future and current trend in Hong Kong, as Beijing continues to increasingly assert and integrate the special administrative region towards the mainland. 

 These developments yet again demonstrate the systematic approach that Beijing is taking to limit the freedoms previously associated with Hong Kong and the increasing fears and systematic challenges that pro-democracy movements and critics face.

Sources and further reading:

Sands, L. (2022, March 30). Hong Kong: Top UK judges resign from Highest Court. BBC News. Retrieved April 1, 2022, from https://www.bbc.com/news/world-asia-60926831 

Siddique, H., & Davidson, H. (2022, March 30). UK judges withdraw from Hong Kong's Court of Final AppealHaroon Siddique and Helen Davidson. The Guardian. Retrieved April 1, 2022, fromhttps://www.theguardian.com/world/2022/mar/30/uk-judges-withdraw-from-hong-kong-court-of-final-appeal