Australian judge James Spigelman says he resigned over HK's national security law

Local | 18 Sep 2020 4:56 pm

Justice James Spigelman's resignation from Hong Kong's Court of Final Appeal, was "related to the content of the national security legislation," he has told Australia's national broadcaster, ABC News.

The Australian judge did not elaborate further, ABC's Foreign Affairs reporter Stephen Dziedzic, reported.

Hong Kong government announcement published Friday said his position was "revoked" earlier this month, but did not provide any reasons why.

A statement from the Hong Kong government provided to the ABC later said that Justice Spigelman "tendered to the Chief Executive on 2 September his resignation as a Non-Permanent Judge of the Court of Final Appeal."

"Therefore the Chief Executive revoked his appointment in accordance with the relevant legislation.''

The resignation came the day after Chief Executive Carrie Lam told reporters that the city did not have any meaningful separation of powers between the legislature, executive branch and judiciary.

Lam also emphasised that the Chinese Government retained ultimate authority over Hong Kong.

Those comments stoked fear in Hong Kong's judiciary, which was already anxious about the rapid erosion of the rule of law under the new security laws.

The Court of Final Appeal was established after the United Kingdom handed Hong Kong back to the Chinese Government, and employs several non-permanent judges from Commonwealth nations.

Former Australian High Court chief justices Robert French and Murray Gleeson, as well as former High Court judge William Gummow, are still serving on the Hong Kong court.

Federal Political Reporter, Matthew Doran, has tweeted that the former High Court Chief Justice Robert French, who is also on the Hong Kong bench, said he will not  be joining Justice Spigelman in resigning.

While the CFA's jurisdiction is limited, it remains the last avenue of appeal for litigants in the city, which has been rocked by turmoil over Beijing's crackdown.

One Hong Kong lawyer told the ABC that the court could become embroiled in political controversy as it might preside over the trials of protesters and dissidents arrested under the new legislation.

Australia has joined several other Western nations condemning the new national security law, calling it a flagrant breach of the "One Country Two Systems" model agreed to by China when the UK relinquished control of the territory.

Justice Spigelman had a long career on the New South Wales bench, serving as the state's chief justice for 13 years. He was also chairman of the ABC until 2017.

He had served on the Hong Kong Court of Final Appeal since 2013 as a non-permanent judge. His current term was not due to expire until 2022.-Photo: ABC News 


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