'Security Law Suspects Unlikely To Appear In Court'

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2020-08-01 HKT 16:31

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  • Lawyer Michael Vidler says there has been surprise at the speed with which the police decided to make arrests under the national security law. Image: Shutterstock

    Lawyer Michael Vidler says there has been surprise at the speed with which the police decided to make arrests under the national security law. Image: Shutterstock

Michael Vidler talks to RTHK's Joanne Wong

A lawyer who specialises in criminal and human rights cases said on Saturday that it looks unlikely that a group of activists wanted for violating the SAR's national security law will see the inside of a Hong Kong court.

Michael Vidler said that just being on a wanted list in Hong Kong doesn't really mean much unless the person in question is in the SAR, but if they've been put on an Interpol wanted list then "that is a different matter", because that will affect their possibility of travelling elsewhere.

“Firstly if they’ve already been granted asylum, and they’ve got refugee status in wherever they are, then they won’t be returned to Hong Kong," said Vidler.

"If they’re in a location where there is an existing extradition treaty, then the local courts will have to determine whether it is appropriate under the existing terms of the extradition treaty for those individuals to be returned."

He noted that as a number of countries including the UK and Australia have suspended their extradition treaties with Hong Kong, it would not be possible for certain individuals to be returned to the SAR.

“That doesn’t mean to say that them being on a wanted list doesn’t mean to say that if they came through Hong Kong, either in transit or they return to Hong Kong that they wouldn’t be subject to arrest and prosecution.”

Vidler told RTHK's Joanne Wong that there has been surprise at the speed with which the police decided to make arrests under the national security law, which came into effect on July 1, and that there is still general concern over the "unfamiliarity of some of the terminology and the interpretation of the wording of the legislation".

"There was a thinking that the authorities might wish to have the legislation more as a warning and – as the government previously said – only reserved for an incredibly small amount of people," he said.

“With an arrest using the national security law on the very first day of its implementation and now weeks afterwards the steps by the police, it seems to contradict what many of us thought the approach would be and indeed what the government was saying that it was only restricted to very few."

Vidler's comments come after it was reported that Hong Kong police had issued arrest warrants for six prominent pro-democracy figures, all of whom are now overseas, for allegedly inciting secession and colluding with foreign forces.

The six include disqualified former lawmaker Nathan Law, former British consulate worker Simon Cheng, Samuel Chu of the Hong Kong Democracy Council, and pro-independence activists Ray Wong, Honcques Laus and Wayne Chan.