Date
24 November 2017
Chief Executive Carrie Lam hinted that a national anthem law could take effect retroactively as far as criminal prosecution of violators is concerned. Photo: Reuters / HKEJ
Chief Executive Carrie Lam hinted that a national anthem law could take effect retroactively as far as criminal prosecution of violators is concerned. Photo: Reuters / HKEJ

CE hints national anthem law could take effect retroactively

Chief Executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor said a national anthem law could be enacted as soon as next month, and hinted that it could take effect retroactively as far as criminal prosecution of violators is concerned, hk01.com reports.

The National People’s Congress Standing Committee passed the National Anthem Law on Sept. 1, and it took effect on Oct. 1 across the mainland.

Speaking to reporters before an Executive Council meeting on Tuesday, Lam said a local version of the law is currently undergoing legislative procedures and could become a retroactive law.

The proposed legislation, if made retroactive, could affect Hong Kong football fans who used to boo and show disrespect while the national anthem was being played before local matches.

Pro-establishment legislator Priscilla Leung Mei-fun, who is an associate professor at the City University of Hong Kong School of Law, said if someone deliberately insults the national anthem before the law in enacted, it could affect the legislative process in Hong Kong.

She said she believes the content of the bill would be straightforward and easy to understand, and urged the public to respect the country and its national anthem.

However, Eric Cheung Tat-ming, a principal lecturer at the Department of Professional Legal Education of the University of Hong Kong, cited Section 39 of the Basic Law which prohibits violation of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights that bans retroactive laws.

Cheung said on a Facebook post that the national anthem law has no legal memory as far as criminal litigation is concerned.

He also cited Article 12 of the mainland’s own criminal law, which states that the national law does not have retroactive power.

Cheung urged Lam or the Department of Justice to issue a clarification, noting that the “chief executive cannot possibly be so uninformed about the Basic Law and the possibility of enacting a retroactive law.”

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