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British Judge resigns from Hong Kong’s top court, cites ‘totalitarianism’



A British judge has revealed the reason why he made a decision to resign from the territory’s highest court – Hong Kong’s court of final appeal (CFA).

This comes after Jonathan Sumption and fellow British judge Lawrence Collins recently stepped down from their positions, with Sumption saying that the reason is an increasingly “paranoid atmosphere” in Hong Kong. 

The resignation comes close on the heels of the recent conviction of 14 pro-democracy activists for conspiracy to commit subversion.

Hong Kong’s national security law, which was enacted on June 30, 2020, was introduced in response to the widespread protests in Hong Kong during 2019. It was enacted to address activities deemed as threats to national security. 

Sumption reportedly pointed out that the “real problem, I think, in Hong Kong is the paranoid atmosphere there.”

“This is said to be a response to the 2019 riots, but there were already laws perfectly capable of dealing with those. The object has become increasingly clear of the national security law was to crush peaceful political dissent, not just riots.”

In a detailed piece for the Financial Times, Lord Sumption expressed his alarm at the direction in which Hong Kong is heading.

Notably, the law has drawn widespread condemnation from various governments and human rights organisations.

Sumption described the law as “extremely illiberal” in an interview and argued that it primarily serves to suppress peaceful political dissent rather than address public order.

China’s increasing interference

Sumption also pointed out China’s increasing interference in Hong Kong’s judicial decisions, explaining that under the Basic Law, China can reverse court decisions through “interpretation,” which often equates to legislative intervention.

CFA can invite non-permanent judges from other common law jurisdictions to sit on its panels in order to provide diverse perspectives and expertise.

(With inputs from agencies)

Heena Sharma

Heena Sharma is a digital journalist who writes mostly on current geopolitical developments. @HeenaSharma0819

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