The UK Foreign Secretary Liz Truss has made a statement supporting the withdrawal of British judges from Hong Kong, moments before a Westminster Hall debate on the issue secured by myself and Siobhain McDonagh MP – both members of the cross-party Inter-Parliamentary Alliance on China (IPAC).
This is an important moment as it finally gets rid of the independent judiciary from lending legitimacy to an authoritarian and brutal regime that prosecutes and convicts people whose only crime is to cry out.
Moments before the House was due to debate the issue, a last-minute announcement confirmed what we have long known to be true – the presence of British judges in Hong Kong courts can no longer be justified in the face of Beijing’s rampant repression in the City.
From the effective outlawing of political opposition to lengthy jail sentences for thought crimes, the Chinese government has destroyed all the last vestiges of rule of law in the City.
I welcome this move and pay credit to Siobhain McDonagh MP and other members of the cross-party Inter-Parliamentary Alliance on China (IPAC), along with all the Hong Kongers working behind the scenes to convince legal experts in this country that British judges must leave Hong Kong.
I unreservedly welcome the statement from the Government and the action today in supporting the withdrawal of British judges from Hong Kong. I unreservedly welcome the statement from the President of the Supreme Court. I hope others involved in the oversight of law: Bar Council and the Law Society, will respond to what is happening and recognise the importance of independence of the courts and those who practise in them and ply their trade. The job is to represent people in a free and liberal society that understands the human rights of those who may be prosecuted.
We have campaigned for this for so long. We have taken testimony in the Inter-Parliamentary Alliance on China and Hong Kong Watch from so many who have fled Hong Kong and are now here, because they are unable to live in freedom in Hong Kong, under the rules of an international treaty signed by the British and Chinese Governments at the time.
The trashing of that, the ending of those rights, the disabusing nature of the Government’s behaviour, prompts us to ask, how can common law exist in a country that does not believe in the rights and freedoms of individuals?
What Ukraine shows us is that freedom has to be fought for, nurtured and protected. Today, I believe, is a step in that direction, and I congratulate the UK Government.