Legal minds condemn arson and vandalism

Top News | Stella Wong 10 Dec 2019

The city's legal minds condemned arson attacks on two court buildings and called for the immediate arrest of the arsonists.

The attacks marred the generally peaceful and orderly march on Sunday, when 800,000 people took to the streets in a protest organized by the Civil Human Rights Front.

The front also admonished the attackers.

The entrances to the High Court in Admiralty and the Court of Final Appeal in Central were set alight and graffiti was sprayed on the walls of the High Court.

The Hong Kong Bar Association deplored the acts of arson and vandalism "in the strongest possible terms."

It added: "It is ironic that when the International Human Rights Day was being commemorated, the very institution which administers justice, protects the rule of law as its key guardian, and upholds fundamental rights and freedoms, is being attacked."

The association said the arsonists are not genuine protesters but criminals and they must be brought to justice.

"Their acts cannot be defended or justified in any manner whatsoever and were not committed in the exercise of any rights in a civilized society governed by the rule of law," it added.

The Law Society of Hong Kong said it strongly condemned all attempts to "undermine respect for judicial integrity and independence."

It said: "Venting dissatisfaction by throwing petrol bombs at court buildings and vandalizing property must be abhorred.

"Those who committed these criminal acts must stop taking the law into their own hands. These acts will not help resolve any problem."

Basic Law Committee vice chairwoman Maria Tam Wai-chu said arson and graffiti at the court buildings disrespected the rule of law.

"The rule of law is an important pillar of Hong Kong. These rioters have neglected the rule of law. I hope police can arrest them and bring them to justice," said Tam, a lawyer who is also a former executive councillor and legislator.

Jimmy Sham Tsz-kit, convener of the Civil Human Rights Front, said he saw no reason why courts should be vandalized as the rule of law should be protected.

"We should protect the rule of law and the courts are the important elements of the rule of law in Hong Kong. In this situation, I cannot see any reason for protesters to set the courts on fire," Sham said on a radio program.

"Not every judgment is in our favor, but the courts have maintained their neutrality. At least we won our appeal against the anti-mask law and emergency law."

After the anti-mask law was ruled unconstitutional, Sham said the mainland has been criticizing Hong Kong's courts and that the constitutional issues are in the hands of the National People's Congress instead of Hong Kong courts.

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