Date
6 December 2019
Protesters wear gas masks during clashes with police outside Hong Kong Polytechnic University in Hung Hom on Sunday. Photo: Reuters
Protesters wear gas masks during clashes with police outside Hong Kong Polytechnic University in Hung Hom on Sunday. Photo: Reuters

China says HK courts have no power to rule on anti-mask law

China’s top legislature said Hong Kong courts have no power to rule on the constitutionality of legislation under the city’s Basic Law, which includes a proposed ban on face masks, state news agency Xinhua reported on Tuesday.

The statement came a day after Hong Kong’s High Court ruled that a ban on wearing face masks during public demonstrations that have rocked the financial hub for more than five months was unconstitutional.

“Whether the laws of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region comply with the Basic Law of Hong Kong can only be judged and decided by the Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress,” Yan Tanwei, a spokesman for the Legislative Affairs Commission of the Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress, said in a statement.

“No other authority has the right to make judgments and decisions,” the statement said.

Embattled Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor invoked colonial-era emergency powers to introduce the ban on wearing face masks as the pro-democracy demonstrations escalated.

Protesters had been using masks to hide their identities in public and to protect themselves from tear gas during clashes with police. The anti-mask law was widely criticized by supporters of the anti-government movement, who saw it as posing a risk to demonstrators.

Hong Kong’s High Court ruled on Monday that the anti-mask law was “incompatible with the Basic law”, the mini-constitution under which Hong Kong was returned to China in 1997. With Reuters

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