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【擬禁民族黨運作】對港人自由有深遠負面影響 要求保安局長尊重法律原則

2018/7/19 — 13:18

圖片來源:法政匯思 Facebook

圖片來源:法政匯思 Facebook

法政匯思就助理社團事務主任建議禁止香港民族黨繼續運作之聲明
Statement of the Progressive Lawyers Group regarding the Recommendation of the Assistant Societies Officer to Prohibit the Continued Operation of the Hong Kong National Party (Scroll for English)

1) 法政匯思對警務處的助理社團事務主任 (「該主任」) 聲稱根據《社團條例》(第151章)第8條第 1(a) 項 (「第8條」) 向保安局局長建議禁止香港民族黨繼續運作 (「該建議」) 深表關注。

2) 根據保安局局長在二零一八年七月十七日會見傳媒的發言:

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a) 該建議是建基於該主任合理地相信禁止香港民族黨的運作或繼續運作是維護國家安全、公共秩序或保護他人的權利和自由所必須;

b) 結社自由並非完全不受限制。根據《香港人權法案》(第383章)(「《人權法案》」),若然限制結社自由是維護國家安全或公眾安全、公共秩序、維持公共衞生及風化、或保障他人的權利和自由所必須,此等限制可以依法實施。

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c) 《人權法案》上述條文和《公民權利和政治權利國際公約》中涉及結社自由的條文完全一樣,而且保安局局長的行為是根據香港法律作出的。

3) 法政匯思對該建議所提出的法律依據深感憂慮,兩大理據詳述如下。

4) 首先,就著推廣某種「政治理念」的這個行為本身而援引第8條「維護國家安全」的理據,從而禁止社團在香港繼續運作的合法基礎值得商榷。

a) 在官永義 訴 內幕交易審裁處 (2008) 11 HKCFAR 170一案,時任終審法院非常任法官的梅師賢爵士在判案書第27段指出,歐洲人權法院就《歐洲人權公約》下與《人權法案》內容相同或大致相同的條文所作出的判決,雖然對香港的法庭沒有約束力,但仍是極具說服力的權威,終審法院向來亦如此視之。終審法院常任法官李義亦曾指出香港法院能夠參考歐洲人權法院發展得較為完善的判例和法理,實是一大福祉。

b) 因此,法政匯思援引以下來自歐洲人權法院、對理解當下情況極有幫助的案例,分析當中的法律觀點。

c) 在United Macedonian Organisation Ilinden–Pirin 訴 保加利亞 (2006) 43 EHRR 52 一案,歐洲人權法院在判詞的第61段中提到:

「僅僅因為一個政黨爭取自治或甚至要求把部分領土從該國的版圖分裂出去,就以國家安全為由而解散該政黨的理據是站不住腳的。在一個奠基於法治的民主社會裡面,挑戰現有規範的政治思想,只要不違反民主原則,及該政治思想的實現是以和平的方式倡導的,皆應透過政治參與等方式得以適當地表達。不管有關政黨領袖和成員的主張在當局和主流意見眼中有多麼駭人聽聞、不可接受,或是他們的訴求有多麼不合理,他們 [結社參與政治的權利] 亦不應遭到如此干預...」

d) 同樣地,在 Stankov 及 the United Macedonian Organisation Ilinden 訴 保加利亞 (Application No.29221/95, unreported, 2 October 2001) 一案中,歐洲人權法院在判詞的第97段中提到:

「縱然有一群人爭取自治或甚至要求部分領土從該國分裂出去,即尋求從根本上改變該國的領土和憲制,亦不自動代表禁止他們的集會是合理的。單憑演講和示威來要求領土變更,並不自動構成對該國領土完整和國家安全的威脅。」

e) Herri Batasuna 及 Batasuna 訴 西班牙 (Application Nos. 25803, 25817/04, Unreported, 30 June 2009) 一案是歐洲人權法院至今唯一認可禁止或解散政黨的決定 - 此案容許解散某政黨運作的判決,依據在於該政黨與恐怖組織的聯繫。再者,當時西班牙政府特意澄清,解散該政黨並非為了消除有關巴斯克地區獨立的討論,並指出其他主張民族主義或獨立的政黨亦能在西班牙和平共處。

f) 有見及此,法政匯思極之懷疑僅僅推動某些政治理念能否作為援引第8條「維護國家安全」的理據,為禁止一個社團繼續運作的決定提供合法基礎。

5) 其次,應該注意的是,根據《公民權利和政治權利國際公約》,可因「國家安全」理據而限制或損害結社自由的情況其實非常有限:

a) 結社自由並非絕對。與此同時,作為一項基本權利,結社自由只有在非常特殊的情況下才可加以限制。無論是根據《基本法》還是《人權法案》,此等限制取決於下列兩項要求 (見 民主黨 訴 律政司 一案 (HCAL 84/2006,2007年5月21日)):

i) 該限制必須由法律規定。

ii) 該限制 (根據《人權法案》第 18(2) 條的用詞) 必須是在民主社會中保障國家安全或公眾安全、公共秩序、維持公共衛生及風化,或在保護他人的權利和自由所必要。

b) 此外,根據香港終審法院在 希慎發展有限公司 訴 城市規劃委員會 (2016) 19 HKCFAR 372一案的判決,分析限制基本權利是否合乎比例有四個步驟:

i) 該限制必須有一個合法的目標;

ii) 該限制必須合理地與該正當的目標有所關聯;

iii) 該限制也必須不多於實現該正當目標所必須;及

iv) 如果該限制能夠通過以上三步,則仍需問第四個問題:在實施該限制帶來的社會利益與該限制侵犯受影響市民受憲法保護的權利之間,是否達到合理的平衡,尤其是在追求社會利益時,有否對該市民造成不可接受地嚴苛的負擔。

c) 這議題另一重要的指引,可在《關於〈公民權利和政治權利國際公約〉的各項限制條款和可克減條款的錫拉庫扎原則》,聯合國文件:E/CN.4/1985/4 (1985) (下稱《錫拉庫扎原則》) 中找到。《錫拉庫扎原則》的第29條訂明,只有在保護國家的存在或其領土完整及政治獨立免於武力或武力威脅時,政府才可以「國家安全」為由限制某些基本權利。

d) 此外,《約翰內斯堡關於國家安全、言論自由及獲取資訊自由原則》,聯合國文件:E/CN.4/1996/39 (1996) (下稱《約翰內斯堡原則》) 的第2條亦訂明:

「以維護國家安全為理由而施加的限制,除非其真實的目的及其可證成的作用是為了維護國家的存在或其領土的完整,使其免於武力的使用或威脅,或是為保障該國抵抗該等武裝力量 (不論是外來武力如軍事威脅等,還是煽動以暴力手段推翻政府等的內在武力) 的能力,否則並不合法。」

e) 因此,除非有充分證據證明香港民族黨有上述的行為,例如使用武力或以武力威脅「中華人民共和國的領土完整及獨立自主」 — 《社團條例》第2(4)條下對「國家安全」的釋義 — 否則對在《公民權利和政治權利國際公約》下的結社自由作出任何建基於「國家安全」的限制或損害皆不正當。

6) 法政匯思在此要求保安局局長尊重及依從前述的法律原則,並以此為基礎作出決定。

7) 由於是次事件可能對香港市民的自由有深遠的負面影響,法政匯思在此呼籲所有公民社會團體、香港市民及國際社會,對香港政府就此事件作出的任何行動保持警覺及密切關注事件的後續發展。

 

法政匯思
二零一八年七月十九日

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Statement of the Progressive Lawyers Group regarding the Recommendation of the Assistant Societies Officer to Prohibit the Continued Operation of the Hong Kong National Party

1) The Progressive Lawyers Group (“the PLG”) is deeply concerned by the recommendation of an Assistant Societies Officer (“the Officer”) to the Secretary for Security on the prohibition of the continued operation of the Hong Kong National Party (“the Recommendation”), in purported reliance on section 8(1)(a) of the Societies Ordinance (Cap.151) (“Section 8”).

2) According to the Secretary for Security in a media session on 17 July 2018:

a) The Recommendation was issued on the basis of the Officer’s reasonable belief that the prohibition of the operation or continued operation of the Hong Kong National Party (“the HKNP”) is necessary in the interests of national security or public order or the protection of the rights and freedoms of others;

b) The freedom of association is not absolute. According to the Hong Kong Bill of Rights Ordinance (Cap. 383) (“the BORO”), restrictions can be made by law if it is necessary in the interests of national security or public safety, public order, the protection of public health and morals, or the protection of the rights and freedom of others;

c) The wordings of the BORO regarding freedom of association are identical to that in the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (“ICCPR”) and the Secretary is acting in accordance with the laws of Hong Kong.

3) The PLG is deeply concerned about the legal basis of the Recommendation for two reasons.

4) First, it is doubtful whether the promotion of a certain “political idea” of itself could suffice as a legitimate basis of invoking the “national security” ground of Section 8 to prohibit the continued operation of a society in Hong Kong:

a) In Koon Wing Yee v. Insider Dealing Tribunal (2008) 11 HKCFAR 170, Sir Anthony Mason NPJ stated at paragraph 27 that the decisions of the European Court of Human Rights (“ECtHR”) on provisions of the European Convention on Human Rights which are in the same, or substantially the same, terms as the relevant provisions of the BORO are of high persuasive authority and have been so regarded by the Hong Kong Court of Final Appeal. Mr Justice Ribeiro PJ has similarly written that it has been most valuable for the Hong Kong Courts to be able to refer to the well-developed jurisprudence of the ECtHR.

b) As such, the PLG makes reference to the following case law from the ECtHR which we believe sheds important light on the present circumstances.

c) In United Macedonian Organisation Ilinden – Pirin and Others v. Bulgaria (2006) 43 EHRR 52, the ECtHR stated at paragraph 61:

“The mere fact that a political party calls for autonomy or even requests secession of part of the country’s territory is not a sufficient basis to justify its dissolution on national security grounds. In a democratic society based on the rule of law, political ideas which challenge the existing order without putting into question the tenets of democracy, and whose realisation is advocated by peaceful means must be afforded a proper opportunity of expression through, inter alia, participation in the political process. However shocking and unacceptable the statements of the applicant party’s leaders and members may appear to the authorities or the majority of the population and however illegitimate their demands may be, they do not appear to warrant the impugned interference…”

d) Similarly, the ECtHR in Stankov and the United Macedonian Organisation Ilinden v. Bulgaria (Application No.29221/95, unreported, 2 October 2001) stated at paragraph 97 that:

“[t]he fact that a group of persons calls for autonomy or even requests secession of part of the country’s territory – thus demanding fundamental constitutional and territorial changes – cannot automatically justify a prohibition of its assemblies. Demanding territorial changes in speeches and demonstrations does not automatically amount to a threat to the country’s territorial integrity and national security…”

e) The only case in which the ECtHR has ever endorsed the prohibition or dissolution of a political party was Herri Batasuna and Batasuna v. Spain (Application Nos. 25803, 25817/04, Unreported, 30 June 2009). The case was decided on the basis that the party in question had ties with a terrorist group. Furthermore, in that case, the Spanish government specifically denied that the dissolution was a means to eliminate debates concerning the Basque independence and highlighted the peaceful coexistence in Spain of other political parties advocating nationalism or independence.

f) In light of the above, the PLG highly doubts whether the mere promotion of certain political ideas by a society could constitute a legitimate basis to justify the prohibition of its continued operation on the “national security” ground of Section 8.

5) Second, it should be noted that the conditions which would allow for the limitation and derogation of the freedom of association under the ICCPR on the basis of “national security” are very limited:

a) Freedom of association is not absolute. At the same time, however, it is a fundamental right which should only be restricted in highly exceptional circumstances. Whether under the Basic Law or the Bill of Rights, it may be subject to restrictions provided two requirements are satisfied (see Democratic Party v. Secretary for Justice (HCAL 84/2006, 21 May 2007):

(i) The restriction must be prescribed by law.

(ii) The restriction (following the wording of Article 18(2) of the BORO) must be necessary in a democratic society in the interests of national security or public safety, public order (ordre public), the protection of public health or morals or the protection of the rights and freedoms of others.

b) Furthermore, according to the Hong Kong Court of Final Appeal in Hysan Development Co Ltd v Town Planning Board (2016) 19 HKCFAR 372, a four-step analysis is adopted in applying the proportionality test in assessing a restriction on rights:

i) The restriction or limitation must pursue a legitimate aim;

ii) The restriction or limitation must also be rationally connected to that legitimate aim;

iii) The restriction or limitation must also be no more than was necessary to accomplish that legitimate aim; and

iv) Where an encroaching measure had passed the three-step test, the analysis should incorporate a fourth step, asking whether a reasonable balance had been struck between the societal benefits of the encroachment and the inroads made into the constitutionally protected rights of the individual, asking in particular whether pursuit of the societal interest resulted in an unacceptably harsh burden on the individual.

c) Further important guidance on this issue is set out in the Siracusa Principles on the Limitation and Derogation Provisions in the ICCPR, UN Doc. E/CN.4/1985/4 (1985) (“the Siracusa Principles”). As stated in principle 29 of the Siracusa Principles, “national security” may be invoked to justify measures limiting certain rights only when they are taken to protect the existence of the nation or its territorial integrity or political independence against force or threat of force.

d) Additionally, principle 2 of the Johannesburg Principles on National Security, Freedom of Expression and Access to Information, UN Doc. E/CN.4/1996/39 (1996) (“the Johannesburg Principles”) provides that:-

“[a] restriction sought to be justified on the ground of national security is not legitimate unless its genuine purpose and demonstrable effect is to protect a country’s existence or its territorial integrity against the use or threat of force, or its capacity to respond to the use or threat of force, whether from an external source, such as a military threat, or an internal source, such as incitement to violent overthrow of the government”.

e) Therefore, unless it is evident that HKNP has, for example, engaged in any use or threat of force against the “safeguarding of territorial integrity and independence of the People’s Republic of China”, as defined in section 2(4) of the Societies Ordinance, any limitation or derogation of the freedom of association under the ICCPR on the basis of “national security” would not be justified.

6) The PLG urges the Secretary for Security to respect and adhere to the legal principles stated above. His decision should be made in accordance with such principles.

7) The PLG also calls for all civil society groups and residents of Hong Kong, as well as the international community, to stay vigilant of any actions to be taken by the HKSAR Government and of any developments in relation to the present matter, given the potentially profound adverse impact on the freedom of Hong Kong’s residents.

 

Progressive Lawyers Group
19 July 2018

(PDF version)

 

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