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法政匯思聲明:就近日針對司法機構的抨擊 相信律政司長將採行動 確保司法機構免受藐視性攻擊

2017/2/20 — 8:46

袁國強(無綫新聞片段截圖)

袁國強(無綫新聞片段截圖)

法政匯思就近日就法院判決對司法機構的抨擊之聲明
Statement of the Progressive Lawyers Group in relation to recent attacks on the judiciary following a recent court ruling

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1. 區域法院近日就七名警員襲擊佔中示威者的控罪作出判決及判刑之後,該案件的主審法官及整體司法機構均遭受一連串不合理的抨擊。 除了法官被蔑稱為「狗官」之外,亦有惡意批評暗示該案之主審法官及司法機構因政治立場而偏頗判案。

2. 過去兩年,法官受到類似毫無根據的攻擊已屢見不鮮。特別令人困擾的是,過往的攻擊只是來自邊緣組織內一些較為激進的人士,但最近的攻擊則是由一些社會知名人士牽頭,包括曾獲香港政府頒授榮譽勳章的著名戲劇導演、警察工會主席、甚至是現任立法會議員。

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3. 在自由社會,市民有批評法官或法院判決的一般權利,但如市民在發表此等評論時蓄意或妄顧後果地達至以下目的: (1) 使法院或法官受到藐視或損害其威信;或(2)干擾司法工作,並構成干預司法公正或程序的妥善運作的實際風險,此等言論將會構成藐視法庭的罪行。

4. 法政匯思早前曾於2015年3月31日及2016年2月24日發表聲明,就意圖破壞公眾對司法制度的信心(及有可能構成藐視法庭)的惡意言論發聲。更重要的是,律政司司長在過去兩年和近日屢次呼籲大眾克制,避免發表類似的惡意言論。律政司司長並聲稱會訴諸法律行動(儘管尚未付諸實行)。至今,律政司司長的呼籲仍被視作耳邊風,而那些作惡者肆無忌憚的攻擊(我們認為該等攻擊已構成對司法機構的刑事藐視),更越趨氾濫。有人甚至公然提出,將付酬勞予毆打七名警員襲擊佔中示威者案件主審法官的人士。

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5. 根據基本法第62條,律政司被賦予獨立刑事檢控的權力,且不受外界干預。法政匯思無意干預律政司獨立行使刑事檢控權。然而,律政司司長具有普通法下「司法機構的捍衛者」這個獨特地位。當其屢次要求公眾克制有關言論的呼籲被無視甚至藐視時,令人不禁質疑,僅僅在口頭上要求公眾評論法官以至司法機構時需保持合理克制,是否還足以守護公眾對司法機構的信心。

6. 我們相信律政司司長將採取一切在其權力範圍之內的必須行動,以確保司法機構及人員在行使其功能與職責時能免受藐視性攻擊。

法政匯思
2017年2月20日

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Statement of the Progressive Lawyers Group in relation to recent attacks on the judiciary following a recent court ruling

1. Following the District Court's verdict and sentencing in relation to seven police officers' assault upon an Occupy Central demonstrator, the judge in question and the judiciary in general have been subject to a barrage of unwarranted attacks. Aside from the more vitriolic terms such as calling judges "dogs", there were sinister suggestions that the judge in this case and the judiciary are politically biased in their exercise of judicial power.

2. Judges have been subjected to such unwarranted attacks in the past two years, so to that extent the latest attacks are nothing new. On those past occasions, such attacks came only from cranks from various fringe groups. What makes the latest attacks particularly disturbing is that they have been led by societal leaders such as a famous drama producer who was a past recipient of the Hong Kong Government's Medal of Honour, a Police union leader, and even a current sitting Legislative Council member.

3. Whilst, in a free society, one has the right generally to criticise judges and the Court, a comment or series of comments is an actionable contempt if such was calculated (either by actual or reckless intent) to (1) bring a Court or judge into contempt or lower their authority or (2) interfere with the administration of justice; and there is a "real risk" that the due administration of justice would be interfered with.

4. The Progressive Lawyers Group had spoken out against vicious statements seeking to undermine the public's confidence in the judicial system (and thus potentially constituting contempt of Court) by way of statements dated 31 March 2015 and 24 February 2016. More importantly, the Secretary for Justice had repeatedly urged restraint during the past two years and in recent days against such comments, and threatening legal action while not having actually done so. Thus far, the Secretary for Justice's pleas have fallen on deaf ears, and the perpetrators of such outrageous and, in our view, criminally contemptuous attacks on the judiciary are now becoming increasingly mainstream. There has even been monetary reward publicly offered for anyone who assaults the judge presiding over the case involving seven police officers' assault upon an Occupy Central demonstrator.

5. Under Article 62 of the Basic Law, the Department of Justice is empowered to exercise its powers of criminal prosecution independently and without interference. The Progressive Lawyers Group does not seek to interfere with such independence. Nonetheless, in circumstances where the Secretary for Justice has a special role at common law as the defender of the judiciary, and his past calls for restraint have not only been ignored but becoming ever more openly flouted, one does wonder whether mere verbal urgings for moderation when commenting on judges and the judiciary are any longer sufficient to safeguard public confidence in the judiciary.

6. We trust the Secretary for Justice will take all necessary actions within his powers to ensure that the judiciary can exercise its judicial function free from any contemptuous attacks.

Progressive Lawyers Group
20 February 2017

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