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UK judges withdraw from top Hong Kong court in opposition to China’s security law

court of final appeal hong kong
  • The U.K.’s Foreign Office announced it was pulling its judges from Hong Kong’s top court, with two Supreme Court justices resigning immediately over growing concerns with China’s national security law passed in 2020.
  • Hong Kong’s Basic Law allows for top judges from overseas common law jurisdictions to sit as non-permanent members of the Court of Final Appeals.
  • The decision was supported by many government officials and Conservative lawmakers.
  • Addressing his resignation, U.K. Supreme Court President Robert Reed said, “The courts in Hong Kong continue to be internationally respected for their commitment to the rule of law, nevertheless, I have concluded, in agreement with the government, that the judges of the Supreme Court cannot continue to sit in Hong Kong without appearing to endorse an administration which has departed from values of political freedom, and freedom of expression.” 
  • China’s national security law gives China sweeping authority over matters of secession, subversion, terrorism and foreign collusion with swift legal enforcement frameworks, which has led to the arrests of pro-democracy activists and journalists.

The U.K.’s Foreign Office declared Wednesday it was pulling its judges from Hong Kong’s top court over concerns with China’s national security law.

Hong Kong’s Basic Law, a constitution upholding the “one country, two systems” principle, allows for senior judges from common law jurisdictions to sit as non-permanent members of their top court, the Hong Kong Court of Final Appeals.