- Article 6(2) of the ICESCR warrants the full realisation of the right to work, which includes providing “conditions safeguarding fundamental political and economic freedoms to the individual”
- Concerning the right to work for foreign legal practitioners from other common-law jurisdictions, the HKSAR Government fails to provide valid reasons as to why they are welcomed to practise in the territory in other areas of law but to the exception of cases relating to the HKNSL
- The HKSAR Government interferes with the enforcement of the norm by seeking intervention from China’s Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress, albeit the highest court in the city ruled against the HKSAR Government, as shown in the legal disputes concerning Jimmy Lai Chee-ying hiring a British barrister to represent him
- The HKSAR fails to provide explanation on factors justifying the deviation from the norm and also deviation from the fulfilment of the right to work as stated in Article 6 of the ICESCR
With Reference to the Committee’s List of Issue (E/C.12/CHN-HKG/Q/4) and the corresponding Replies by Hong Kong, China (“HKSAR”) (E/C.12/CHN/RQ-HKG/4), this bulletin gathers and presents information regarding the restrictions on foreign lawyers to practise in cases relating to the Hong Kong National Security Law (“HKNSL”). The full realisation of lawyers’ economic right to work which is an integral part of the ICESCR as enshrined in Article 6 is concerned here.
Restricting lawyers’ economic rights to suppress their protection of the proper exercise of human rights
- To prepare his defence in the upcoming trial against the charge of “collusion with foreign forces”, Jimmy Lai Chee-ying sought to appoint British lawyer Tim Owen KC and his legal team for representation
- While the Court of Final Appeal in Hong Kong saw no merits in the HKSAR government’s arguments in justifying the ban of Tim Owen KC, the Chief Executive of the HKSAR invited the Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress to alter the effect of the court’s decision
- Article 6(2) of the Covenant stipulates that a State Party should achieve the full realisation of the right to work by providing “conditions safeguarding fundamental political and economic freedoms to the individual” (emphasis added)
- The HKSAR government failed to provide valid reasons, as corroborated by the city’s top court, as to why it is justified to impose additional restraints on foreign legal practitioners’ political and economic freedom to practise in HKNSL cases when they could generally practise in any other areas of laws
We strongly urge clarification from HKSAR on its compliance with its treaty obligations under the ICECSR despite the information and the established fact patterns above which suggest otherwise.