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就支持校園言論自由之聲明

2017/9/19 — 7:25

中文大學現「香港獨立」banner,圖片來源:中文大學學生會facebook

中文大學現「香港獨立」banner,圖片來源:中文大學學生會facebook

從9月初開始,支持香港獨立的標語及橫額於數間香港的大學校園內展示,引起不少爭議。9月15日,10間大學校長發出聯署聲明,譴責校園內「濫用」言論自由的行為及表示他們不支持港獨(下稱「聯署聲明」)。部分大學的管理層要求學生移走口號及橫額,否則大學會主動移走該些物品。

法政匯思就上述一系列事件及聯署聲明有以下回應﹕

1. 根據《基本法》第27條及《香港人權法案》第16條,香港居民享有言論、發表意見及表達的自由(儘管這些自由受到某些法律約束)。而且,根據《香港人權法案》第22條,人人在法律上一律平等,法律應禁止因政見或其他意見而生之歧視。因此,政治異見不應是剝奪任何人言論自由的理由,即使那些異見對部分人來說難以接受甚至感到厭惡。

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2. 法政匯思認為,大學校園內支持香港獨立的橫額及標語,僅是政治主張,並無違反香港任何刑事或民事法律。而且,即使該政治主張有可能與《基本法》並不相符,這亦不能成為限制言論自由的根據。因此,該政治主張應與其他任何言論一樣受香港法律保障,包括保障譴責該政治主張的言論。

3. 法政匯思就10間大學校長所發出的聯署聲明表示遺憾。儘管10間大學校長同樣享有言論自由(就此而言他們有權發出聯署聲明),但聯署聲明暗示僅僅表達支持香港獨立的主張便是濫用言論自由的看法卻是錯誤的。法政匯思認為,只要該政治主張沒有違反任何現時的法律,濫用就並不存在,香港人表達政治意見的自由不應受約束。

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4. 法政匯思相信,言論自由對院校自主彌足珍貴。領導各大學的校長獲公眾信任而肩負重任,無論政治立場如何不同,他們都應挺身而出,保障校園內的言論自由。

2017年9月17日
法政匯思

Since early September, slogans and banners supporting Hong Kong independence have appeared in several universities in Hong Kong. This has sparked heated debates on campuses and also among the general public. On 15 September 2017, the heads of ten universities issued a joint statement condemning this so-called “abuse” of free speech and expressing their opposition to Hong Kong independence (the “Joint Statement”). Moreover, some senior staff of these universities have warned the students to remove the banners and slogans, failing which the universities will act to remove them.

The Progressive Lawyers Group (“PLG”) has the following response to this series of incidents (including the Joint Statement):

1. Freedom of speech, freedom of opinion, and freedom of expression for all Hong Kong residents are protected under Article 27 of the Basic Law and Article 16 of the Bill of Rights (subject to a limited number of legal restrictions). Moreover, Article 22 of the Bill of Rights provides that everyone is equal before the law and that the law should prohibit discrimination on the ground of political or other opinion. Therefore, no one should be deprived of such rights merely because he holds a different political opinion, even if that opinion may be disagreeable or offensive to some people.

2. PLG considers that the banners and slogans relating to Hong Kong independence are merely a political assertion which do not violate any criminal or civil law of Hong Kong. PLG also considers that, even if the opinion asserted is arguably inconsistent with the Basic Law, that itself cannot be a justification to limit one’s right to free speech. Therefore, such political assertion should be protected like any other speech under our law (including those statements which oppose the idea of Hong Kong independence).

3. PLG is disappointed by the issuance of the Joint Statement. Although the heads of the ten universities have the same freedom of speech as everyone else (and hence are legally entitled to issue the Joint Statement), its content is incorrect insofar as it insinuates that expressing support for Hong Kong independence is an “abuse” of free speech. PLG considers that, as long as such expression does not violate any existing law, it cannot be properly called an “abuse” of free speech. Hong Kong residents should not be restricted from expressing their political opinion.

4. PLG believes that freedom of speech is vital for the autonomy of each university. The heads of the universities are entrusted by the Hong Kong public with the critical duty of leading their institutions. They should take the lead in defending the fundamental right to speak freely on campus, regardless of one’s political opinion.

Dated: 17th September 2017
Progressive Lawyers Group

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