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高鐵一地兩檢 FAQ:為何政府方案是「法令統治」 ?

2017/9/19 — 15:57

法政匯思對政府建議廣深港高速鐵路香港段 (『高鐵香港段』)
實施一地兩檢的常見問題解答

撮要

Q1:我不想由頭讀到尾,請你一句話總結政府的方案。

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法令統治。

Q2:那即是甚麼?

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如果當權者的行事手法就像是對所有人說『我就是法律』,就可以叫做法令統治。這
與『法治』完全相反。

Q3: 為甚麼這樣說?

我們還以為你不想看太多解釋?如果你想知為甚麼,請閱讀下面的常見問題解答!

一地兩檢安排 – 概況

Q4:甚麼是一地兩檢?

當一個人由 A 地到 B 地,而兩個地方都分別有獨立的出入境和海關清關系統,通常在她離開 A 地時,必須辦理一套出境和海關清關手續,而當她抵達 B 地時,也要通過另一套入境和海關清關手續。

一地兩檢是一種例外的安排。例如:當有一個人由 A 地到 B 地,她只需在 A 地同時辦理 A 地及 B 地的出入境和海關清關手續,而毋須在抵達 B 地時再通過當地的出入境和海關清關手續。這樣的安排涉及 A 地允許 B 地的官員在 A 地境內以某程度上執行 B 地的法律。

Q5:現實世界中有否這樣的安排?

有的, 常被引用的例子包括:

- 倫敦/巴黎歐洲之星列車路線:英、法兩國的出入境和海關官員會於沿途的每個車站,在乘客登上列車之前,進行兩國的清關手續。 這個安排是由英國和法國之間以國際條約方式訂立的。

- 加拿大/美國預先清關:加拿大和美國簽署了一項協議,美國官員可以在某些加拿大機場進行出入境和海關檢查等預先清關手續。通過該項檢查的乘客一般不需要在抵達美國時再作進一步檢查。

- 深圳灣一地兩檢:經深圳灣過境的汽車,乘客會在同地通過香港和內地的出入境和海關檢查站。香港檢查站位於中國內地。根據協議,該地方被香港租用而大部份的香港法律都適用於該內地的地方。

Q6:在香港境內實行類似的安排是否合法?

不合法。讓我們以解答下列問題來說明。

一地兩檢安排 - 香港政府方案

Q7:香港何時首次討論在境內進行一地兩檢的安排?

早在 2008 至 2010 年度,當香港立法會審議撥款興建高鐵香港段時,已提出過這安排。當時有不少立法會議員質疑在香港境內實施一地兩檢是否合法,以及對高鐵運作的影響。政府明確表示一地兩檢是考慮的其中一個問題,但即使在香港無法實施一地兩檢,高鐵仍能以高速行駛所以仍會產生莫大效益。

Q8:那麼政府現在的建議是甚麼呢?

政府建議在西九龍高鐵站實施一地兩檢。當列車從香港前往內地時,乘客須在登上列車之前在車站進行香港和內地的出入境及海關清關手續。當列車從內地抵達香港時,內地和香港的出入境及海關清關都會在西九龍進行,而乘客在西九龍進行內地的出境及海關清關手續之前,不會被視為「離開」內地。

Q9:政府打算如何達致這安排?

首先,香港政府會與內地就此簽署相關協議。接著,全國人民代表大會常務委員會(「人大常委會」)會決定「給予」香港政府權力落實這安排。 最後,內地和香港均會各自立法去執行人大常委會的決定。

如果實行後, 整體效果將會是由香港政府把西九龍站的部份「出租」給內地。 在這區域內,及在操作中的列車上(但不包括香港境內的路軌),除了少數對乘客不會造成實際日常影響的例外情況外,內地的法律將會全面適用。

政府建議方案的基本法律問題

Q10:內地法律可否在香港適用?

答案基本上是「不可以」。《基本法》第 18 條明確規定,除《基本法》附件三所規定被納入成為香港法律的某些全國性法律外,任何內地法律將不適用於香港。第 19 條規定,香港法院對香港有司法管轄權。第 22 條規定,身處香港的所有內地人員均須遵守香港法律。即使是人民解放軍如非為防務行事也要遵守香港法律;而在 2013 年有市民非法進入解放軍軍營,都是由香港法律和香港法院處理的。

Q11: 但我以為《基本法》第 18 條容許中央政府增加列於《基本法》附件三內適用於香港的全國性法律?

是的。但中央政府只能在外交、國防等不屬於香港自治範圍內的事項上這樣做。但是,刑法(屬於香港原有的法律)、稅務(例如稅項和關稅)、海關和出入境等一切事項都是《基本法》中明確地包括在香港的自治範圍內的,詳見《基本法》第 8、106、108、116 和 154 條。

事實上,政府亦沒有建議按此途徑在西九龍站實施內地法律。

Q12: 但政府不是說,由於他們的建議是基於《基本法》第 20 條,所以是合法的嗎?

第 20 條確是給予人大常委會權力授予香港額外的權力,但根據《基本法》或其機制而授予的任何權利及權力本身必須合符《基本法》,否則整套《基本法》會變得毫無意義。當政府於 2007 年提倡深圳灣口岸安排時,已經明確表示行使該等額外權力必須符合《基本法》。若香港政府可被授予權力,指定香港境內某地方為不屬香港的一部份而《基本法》不適用,這是繞過了《基本法》第 18、19 及 22 條,更不用說其他在香港內獲保障的基本權利。

Q13: 反正《基本法》沒有就「香港」下任何定義,政府為什麼不可以重新界定香港,把某些區域劃出去不讓香港管轄呢?

其實全國人大及國務院早已通過決定及命令清楚界定「香港」是由甚麼地方組成,而那些決定及命令並沒有指出任何部分可被分割而在香港創造一個「小內地」。更重要的是,儘管有人不同意,但基於中國須遵守的國際法,《中英聯合聲明》第 1 條清楚定義「香港」包括「香港島、九龍及新界」,沒有例外。

所以,這論點雖然表面看似合理,但其實站不住腳。

Q14: 如果你所說的都正確,那為何政府看來很有信心其建議不怕司法挑戰,而不需人大常委會釋法以掃除法律問題的障礙?

政府在這方面費盡心思。但他們不是尋求一個符合《基本法》的方案。他們所做的,是策劃一個希望不能在香港法院被挑戰的計劃,但不理會計劃是否符合《基本法》。他們知道方案絕不會及不能被內地法制挑戰,他們亦從以往香港的案例知道香港法院不能挑戰中央政府的國家行為。政府訂出一個完全依賴人大常委會授權、在某些地方放棄使用香港法律的方案,就是知道這方案有很大機會不能被挑戰。

就算香港的下級法院真的判政府敗訴,當案件上訴至香港終審法院時,案件亦非常可能會被提請到人大常委會就《基本法》第 20 條的適用範圍釋法,結果可想而知。況且,政府還可以說,是法院而不是政府尋求釋法。

Q15: 嘩! 所以政府這個一地兩檢方案就是誰有權誰說了就算數?

是,而且這做法為走後門繞過《基本法》條文的渠道開了一個先例。這就是為何我們劈頭就說這是法令統治!

Q16: 如果你說政府的方案不可行,那麼高鐵香港段的出入境及清關手續要怎樣才合法?

任何不涉及內地法律在香港境內應用的計劃皆可。其中的例子包括在內地的某些車站設置關口;當列車進入內地境內於車上進行入境及海關檢查;或兩者合併,即在接近香港的內地車站設立關口、同時在車上為長途乘客進行檢查(此最後例子其實是類似芬蘭-俄羅斯跨境高鐵採用的模式)。別忘記,特區政府於 2008 年至 2010 年間已明確表示,即使沒有一地兩檢,也不會對高鐵為香港帶來的效益有任何重大影響。

其他衍生的法律及有關問題

Q17:透過「租貸」或「售賣」香港任何部份予內地以實施一地兩檢,有分別嗎?

沒有。不管是租出或以任何方式授予香港的部份地方給內地,真正的問題是能否在香港任何地區引入內地法律。《基本法》已經給予我們清晰的答案,就是「不能」。香港及內地有關部門得花了七至九年才想出現時的方案,可見答案的清晰程度。但正如先前所說,此方案的最終目的並非為了要符合《基本法》,而只是為了使它不能被司法挑戰。這已足以請君三思了。

Q18: 一地兩檢為市民提供方便,又能促進中港兩地商貿融合。《基本法》第 118 及119 條規定,香港政府要為香港提供良好的營商環境,那一地兩檢安排不因此而合法嗎?

最近社會各界已為於西九進行一地兩檢是否帶來便利進行不少討論,這並非適合我們評論的範疇。但即使能為市民帶來方便,難道《基本法》第 118 及 119 條就不受《基本法》的其他條款,例如之前談及的第 18、19 及 22 條的約束嗎?我們希望如此愚昧的提議並非來自受過法律教育的人。

Q19: 為甚麼你們要製造這麼多麻煩和阻撓?高鐵網絡連接著未來、甚至是現今已是世界最大的市場,難道你不想成為這網絡的一份子嗎? 這有助香港營造更好的營商環境,有什麼問題?

我們沒有反對香港成為中國高鐵網絡的一部份,但高鐵與出入境及清關等事宜根本是兩回事。我們重申,政府亦曾表示如何進行出入境及清關手續並不影響高鐵本身能為香港帶來的效益。

再者,要為香港營造的良好營商環境,最重要的肯定是一套穩固、確定的憲法制度。政府使用等同是法令統治的手段強行實施一地兩檢,對香港本來穩固、確定的的憲法制度有何影響?香港作為國際金融中心,一地兩檢帶來的那些所謂便利真的比一套穩固、確定的憲法制度更重要嗎?

Q20: 但政府已表明高鐵西九龍站一地兩檢方案是一次性的,亦沒有計劃實施更多此類方案。那對此方案的擔憂不是毫無根據的嗎?

這並不是重點。重點甚至不一定是關於一地兩檢本身的安排。重點是,如果我們容許政府用一個機制繞過《基本法》,要求中央政府機構作一個不能被挑戰的「決定」,此例一開,這機制亦可用於一地兩檢以外任何本來違反《基本法》的問題。簡而言之,這是一個法治問題,因為它帶來了「法令統治」。

Q21: 你們不斷提及《基本法》和《中英聯合聲明》。但這些文件是在很久以前訂立的,沒有預計到新近的情況。法律不是應該隨著時代的改變而向前邁進嗎?

時代當然是不斷變化的。但是,《基本法》和《中英聯合聲明》是為保持香港本身的制度至起碼 2047 年而訂立的。作為小憲法和國際條約,儘管時代變遷,從性質來說它們是永久及屹立不倒的。

無論如何,誰可以說通過「法令統治」繞過憲法規定是向前邁進?任何人都會認為這是倒退!

Q22: 如果在西九龍站和在香港的列車上實行只限於海關、出入境和檢疫相關的內地法律,你會接受嗎?

不會。我們重申《基本法》第 18、19 及 22 條中毫不含糊的明確規定。

Q23: 但你亦認同在外國其他地方和深圳灣也存在一地兩檢安排。為甚麼在這些地方不是問題,而在香港會構成問題呢?

這些地方並沒有與《基本法》第 18、19及 22條相似的法律。而在歐洲之星(Eurostar)和在加拿大機場的美國官員執法安排(雖然這並非涉及香港《基本法》框架下的合憲性問題),由於相關國家的人權標準差異不大,這些協議相對較易達成。對於人權標準差異較大的國家(例如芬蘭與俄羅斯),它們之間的跨境高鐵也不容許一地兩檢。

Q24: 但解放軍在香港的軍營呢?外國領事館和其官員的特殊待遇呢?那些不是在香港範圍使用外地法律的先例嗎?

首先,國防及外交事務在《基本法》下不屬於香港自治的範圍。其次,就解放軍而言,如前所述,香港市民在軍營內違法是香港法律問題,由香港法院判決。而駐港解放軍除了要遵守國家軍事法,也必須遵守香港法律。第三,關於外國領事館和其官員,因外交事務不在香港自治範圍內,《基本法》附件三內附有特定的國家法律處理這些事宜。無論如何,儘管香港公務人員未經相關領事的同意不能進入領事館的範圍,但在所有領事館的地方,香港的法律仍然適用及香港仍然擁有司法管轄權。

因此,雖然解放軍軍營和外國領事館和其官員的例子好像與一地兩檢安排相似,但實際上卻是截然不同。

Q25: 如我在香港境內實行內地法律的西九龍站特定範圍或列車上,我應該要對內地與香港的法律差異感到害怕嗎?

於未來幾個月內,各方無疑會在政府提出一地兩檢方案的背景下不斷討論內地與香港法律的差異。我們只在此提出兩點。第一,根據政府提出的一地兩檢方案,我們一般是不會於實行內地法律的特定範圍內,享有香港地區內應有的、受到《基本法》和其他香港法律保障的權利。第二,不管內地法律是否「可怕」(即使內地法律比香港法律沒那麼「可怕」也不是重點),事實是政府提出的一地兩檢方案明顯違反《基本法》,而提出的落實方法實質上是以法令統治繞過《基本法》。

法政匯思

2017 年 9 月 18 日

(標題由編輯所擬)

The Progressive Lawyers Groups FAQs on the Governments co-location proposals in the  Hong Kong section of the Express Rail Link  

Overall summary 

Q1: I don’t want to have to read through all this, give me one phrase that summarises the Government’s proposal. 

Rule by decree. 

Q2: What’s that? 

It is essentially when those in power acts in a way as to say to everyone “I am the law”. It is the exact opposite of “rule of law”. 

Q3: Why do you say that? 

I thought you did not want to read lots of explanations? If you want to know why, read these FAQs! 

Co-location arrangements – Generally 

Q4: What is a co-location arrangement? 

When a person travels from A to B and the two places are subject to separate immigration and customs clearance systems, the normal situation would be for the person to clear through one set of immigration and customs when she leaves A, and to clear through another set of immigration and customs when she arrives at B. 

An exception to this normal rule is a co-location arrangement. An example of this would be where a person travelling from A to B clears immigration and customs of both A and B at A, such that when she arrives at B, she does not need to clear immigration and customs at B. Such an arrangement would involve B being permitted by A to have officials in A’s territory to enforce the laws of B to varying degrees. 

Q5: Do such arrangements exist in the real world? 

Yes. Commonly cited examples include: 

- London/Paris Eurostar train route: in each of the stations along this route, there exists both British and French immigration and customs officers performing both British and French clearance procedures before passengers board the train. This arrangement was entered into by treaty between the United Kingdom and France. 

 - Canada/USA pre-clearance: Canada and the USA have an agreement in place where American officials can conduct pre-clearance immigration and customs checks in certain Canadian airports. Passengers passing such checks would generally not be required to go through further checks upon arriving in the USA. 

- Shenzhen Bay co-location: Passengers in motor vehicles going between Hong Kong and the Mainland through the Shenzhen Bay would clear both Hong Kong and the Mainland immigration and customs checkpoints. The Hong Kong checkpoints are located physically in Mainland China. By agreement, that area is leased to Hong Kong and Hong Kong law mostly applies in that part of Mainland China. 

Q6: Is it legal to put similar arrangements in place within Hong Kong territory? 

No. Let us explain why in answers to further questions. 

Co-location arrangements – Hong Kong Government proposal 

Q7: When was the first time that the issue of having co-location arrangement in Hong Kong territory discussed in Hong Kong? 

It was raised as early as 2008-2010 when funding to build the Hong Kong section of the Express Rail Link was considered by the Hong Kong Legislative Council. At the time, quite a  number of legislators doubted whether it would be legally possible to implement a co- location arrangement in Hong Kong territory and whether that would impact on the  operation of the rail link. The Government made clear at the time that co-location was an issue being considered, but even if a co-location arrangement cannot be implemented in Hong Kong, the rail link would still be of benefit due to its high speed. 

Q8: So what is the Government proposing now? 

The Government is proposing to impose a co-location arrangement in the West Kowloon Express Rail Link station. When a train travels from Hong Kong to the Mainland, a passenger is to clear both Hong Kong and Mainland immigration and customs at the station before boarding the train. When a train travels from the Mainland to Hong Kong, a passenger would not be deemed as “leaving” the Mainland before clearing Mainland immigration and customs at West Kowloon, such that both Mainland and Hong Kong immigration and customs clearance would take place at West Kowloon. 

Q9: How does the Government plan to do this? 

First, the Hong Kong Government will enter an agreement with the Mainland in relation to this. Then, the Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress will decide to “grant” power to the Hong Kong Government to implement this. Finally, both the Mainland and Hong Kong will legislate to implement the Standing Committee of the National People Congress’s decision. 

If put in place, the overall effect of all this would be for the Hong Kong Government to “rent” parts of the West Kowloon station out to the Mainland. In those areas, and on the operating trains (but not on the train tracks in Hong Kong territory), Mainland laws will apply, with a few narrow exceptions that will have little day to day practical impact on passengers. 

Fundamental legal problems with the Government’s proposal 

Q10: Can Mainland laws be applied in Hong Kong? 

The answer is pretty much “no”. Article 18 of the Basic Law is clear: except for certain national laws that are incorporated into Hong Kong law under Annex III of the Basic Law, no Mainland laws are to be applied in Hong Kong. Article 19 provides that Hong Kong courts have jurisdiction over Hong Kong. Article 22 says that all Mainland officials in Hong Kong have to adhere to Hong Kong law. Just on this, even the People’s Liberation Army has to follow Hong Kong law when not acting in their defence capacity, and when civilians illegally entered into a PLA site in 2013, that was dealt with by Hong Kong law and the Hong Kong Court. 

Q11: But I thought Article 18 of the Basic Law allows the Central Government to add to the list of applicable national laws under Annex III of the Basic Law? 

Yes, that’s right. But the Central Government can only do that in relation to laws related to foreign affairs, defence, and other matters not within Hong Kong’s autonomy. However, things like criminal law (being part of pre-existing Hong Kong law), taxation (eg duties and excises), customs and immigration are all matters specifically within Hong Kong’s autonomy under the Basic Law. See Articles 8, 106, 108, 116 and 154 of the Basic Law. 

Note that the Government’s proposal on co-location has not gone down the path of imposing Mainland laws at West Kowloon station through this mechanism. 

Q12: But isn’t the Government’s proposal legal under Article 20 of the Basic Law? That’s what they seem to be suggesting. 

Article 20 does give the Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress the power to grant additional powers to Hong Kong. But any rights and powers granted under the Basic Law or a mechanism under it must be itself subject to the Basic Law, otherwise the Basic Law would become meaningless. The Government itself expressly said that the exercise of any such additional powers must comply with the Basic Law when it proposed the Shenzhen Bay Arrangement in 2007. If the Hong Kong Government can be granted the power to designate any area within Hong Kong as not being part of Hong Kong such that the Basic Law is said not to apply, that would be a circumvention of Articles 18, 19 and 22 of the Basic Law, not to mention other protections of fundamental rights that are applicable in Hong Kong. 

Q13: But there is no definition of “Hong Kong” in the Basic Law, such that the Government can re-define any area as not being governed by Hong Kong? 

There are actually clear national decisions and orders defining what constitutes “Hong Kong”, and those decisions and orders do not provide for any carve-outs to create little Mainland hamlets in Hong Kong. More fundamentally, as a matter of international law to which China is bound despite any suggestions to the contrary, Article 1 of the Sino-British Joint Declaration clearly defines “Hong Kong” as including “Hong Kong Island, Kowloon and the New Territories” without any exception. 

So, to those who make the argument set out in this question, nice try, but it does not work. 

Q14: If everything is as you say, why is the Government so seemingly confident that its proposal will survive any legal challenge, such that they have no plans for a Standing Committee of the National People Congress interpretation of the Basic Law to explain away legal problems? 

The Government tries to be clever on this one. They are not seeking to put together a proposal that conforms to the Basic Law. All they have done is to hatch together a plan that hopefully (from their perspective) cannot be challenged by the Hong Kong courts regardless of whether it conforms to the Basic Law. They know that their proposal definitely will not and cannot be challenged within the Mainland legal system. They also know, from previous case law in Hong Kong, that Hong Kong Courts cannot challenge acts of state by organs of the Central Government. By making their plan to dis-apply Hong Kong law in certain areas entirely dependent on a purported grant of power by the Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress, the Government knows that, there is a real chance that the proposal is beyond challenge. 

And even if lower level Hong Kong courts do rule against the Government, once the case reaches the Court of Final Appeal, there is a very real likelihood that it would have to refer the scope of Article 20 of the Basic Law to the Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress for interpretation. And we all know what the result of that would be. Further, the Government can then say that they did not seek such an interpretation, the Court did. 

Q15: Wow, so this co-location proposal is a case of whatever those in power says goes? 

Yes, and it sets a precedent as a mechanism for effectively displacing provisions of the Basic Law via the back door. That is why we said at the start that this is rule by decree! 

Q16: If, as you say, the Government’s proposal doesn’t work, then what would legally work in relation to immigration and customs clearing for the Hong Kong section of the Express Rail Link then? 

Any plan that does not involve the application of Mainland laws in Hong Kong territory could work. Examples of this include having checkpoints at certain stations on the Mainland, conducting immigration and customs checks on board the train once it enters into the Mainland, or some combination of the two where stations close to Hong Kong would have checkpoints and those in the train for the longer haul are checked on board (the last of these examples is actually used in the Finland/Russia cross-border rail line). Remember, the Government had explicitly said back in 2008-2010 that the absence of co-location would not fundamentally affect the benefits of high-speed rail in Hong Kong. 

Other legal and related issues arising 

Q17: Does it matter whether the plan for co-location in Hong Kong is applied through “renting” or “selling” any part of Hong Kong to the Mainland? 

No. The real issue is whether any part of Hong Kong can in fact apply Mainland laws regardless of whether the relevant Mainland law hamlet within Hong Kong is rented or otherwise granted to it. The Basic Law has already given us a clear answer, and the answer is “no”. The answer is so clear that it took the Hong Kong and Mainland authorities 7 to 9 years to come up with its present proposal. And as noted earlier, the ultimate aim of this  proposal does not even appear to be for it to conform to the Basic Law, but merely to shield it from being challenged. That tells you something. 

Q18: The co-location arrangement is convenient and would encourage more commercial integration between Mainland and Hong Kong businesses. Doesn’t Articles 118 and 119 of the Basic Law, which require the Hong Kong Government to create a friendly commercial environment for Hong Kong, make the co-location arrangement legal? 

The convenience or otherwise of a co-location arrangement at the West Kowloon station has been much discussed by various parties in the public arena, and it is not our place to get into that discussion. But even assuming there is such convenience, who said that Articles 118 and 119 of the Basic Law are not subject to other provisions of the Basic Law such as Articles 18, 19 and 22 as mentioned earlier? We hope such a silly suggestion did not come from any legally trained person with experience! 

Q19: Why do people like those in your group have to be so difficult and obstructive? Don’t you want to be part of a high-speed rail network that connects to what will or already is the biggest market in the world? What’s wrong with wanting to be part of that and help create a better commercial environment for Hong Kong? 

We have nothing against Hong Kong becoming part of China’s high-speed rail network. But high-speed rail and immigration and customs clearance issues are separate things. We repeat again, the Government had previously said that high-speed rail would bring real benefits for Hong Kong regardless of the mode of immigration and customs clearance finally being put into place. 

And speaking of creating a good commercial environment, what could be more important for that than a legal and constitutional system that provides certainty? By effectively resorting to rule by decree in the way the Government seek to implement the co-location arrangement proposal, how is that good for legal and constitutional certainty? And how are the supposed conveniences of the proposed co-location arrangement so great that it overrides the fundamental importance of legal and constitutional certainty to Hong Kong as an international financial centre? 

Q20: But the Government already said that the proposed co-location arrangement for West Kowloon station is a one-off, and there are no plans for more such arrangements to be imposed in Hong Kong. Doesn’t that mean that concerns about this being some Mainland takeover is unfounded? 

But that’s not the point. The fundamental issue is not necessarily even about co-location arrangements. Once a precedent is set for the Government to be able to use a mechanism to circumvent the Basic Law by getting the Central Authorities to make a “decision” so that it cannot be challenged, the use of such a mechanism need not only be used for co-location arrangements. It can potentially be used for anything that would otherwise be considered contrary to the Basic Law. In short, this is a rule of law problem in so far as it brings in a means for rule by decree. 

Q21: You keep harping on about the Basic Law and Sino-British Joint Declaration. But these documents were entered into a long time ago. They did not account for new situations. Shouldn’t the law move forward with changing times? 

 Of course times change. But the Basic Law and the Sino-British Joint Declaration were specifically created for Hong Kong to maintain its own separate system until 2047 at least. And as a mini-constitution and an international treaty respectively, they are in their nature intended as documents that are permanent and be steady and constant in spite of changing times. 

Anyway, who said that to enable the circumventing of constitutional provisions effectively through rule by decree is a step forward? One would have thought that this is instead a step backwards! 

Q22: Would it make you feel better if the scope of Mainland laws to be applied in West Kowloon station and on the train while it is physically in Hong Kong is restricted to customs, immigration and quarantine? 

Alas, no. We repeat again the clear and unambiguous provisions under Articles 18, 19 and 22 of the Basic Law. 

Q23: But even you admit that co-location arrangements exist in other places around the world and in Shenzhen Bay. Why is it unproblematic in those places and problematic in Hong Kong? 

In none of those places mentioned do there exist provisions highly similar to Articles 18, 19 and 22 of the Basic Law. And in the cases of Eurostar and Canadian airports with US officials (although this does not go to the question of constitutionality under the Basic Law framework in the Hong Kong context), those agreements were more readily reached because the countries concerned had relatively similar human rights standards. Where divergent human rights standards exist between countries, such as between Finland and Russia, the cross-border rail link between them do not allow for co-location arrangements.  

Q24: But how about People Liberation Army sites in Hong Kong? And how about the special treatment of foreign consular sites and officials in Hong Kong? Aren’t they precedents for application of foreign laws in Hong Kong territory? 

First, defence and foreign affairs are specifically outside the scope of Hong Kong’s autonomy under the Basic Law. Second, in relation to the PLA, as mentioned earlier, any transgressions within their sites by civilians in Hong Kong is a matter of Hong Kong law and judged by Hong Kong courts, and PLA soldiers in Hong Kong also have to follow Hong Kong law on top of any national military laws applicable to soldiers. Third, in relation to foreign consular sites and officials, consistent with foreign affairs not being within Hong Kong’s autonomy, there is a specific piece of national law under Annex III of the Basic Law which deals with this. In any event, Hong Kong laws still apply and Hong Kong still have jurisdiction over all consular sites although Hong Kong officials cannot enter those sites without consent of the consulates. 

Thus, although the examples of PLA sites and foreign consular sites and officials may at first seem superficially comparable to proposed co-location arrangements, they are in fact quite different. 

Q25: Should I be scared about the differences between Mainland and Hong Kong laws when we are physically in Hong Kong but in a designated Mainland law area in West Kowloon station or on the train itself? 

Differences between Mainland and Hong Kong laws will, in the context of the Government’s proposed co-location arrangement, no doubt be discussed further by various parties in the public domain over the coming months. We would only make two points. First, generally speaking, it is correct to say that Basic Law rights and other legal rights afforded to individuals within Hong Kong territory will not be applicable in the areas where Mainland laws are to be applied under the Government’s co-location arrangement proposal. Second, regardless of whether Mainland laws are “scary” (that is, it does not matter even if Mainland laws are less “scary” than Hong Kong laws), it does not take away the fact that the Government’s co-location arrangement proposal is clearly contrary to the Basic Law, and that the proposed means for implementing it seeks to circumvent the Basic Law effectively by decree. 

Progressive Lawyers Group 

18 September 2017 

 

 

 

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