South China Morning Post
30 June 2015
With no political reform in sight for at least the next seven years, what does this mean for the reform of criminal law and justice?
The good news is that we do not expect to see an “Allegiance to Hong Kong Bill”, like the one introduced recently in Australia to enhance anti-terrorism measures. Nor does Article 23 national security legislation stand a chance of returning any time soon. We are also lucky that we do not have “get tough on crime” political agendas thrust upon us by politicians.
Even when news of a bomb plot was uncovered on the eve of the Legislative Council reform debate, we took it in our stride and avoided the knee-jerk reaction of labelling the arrested individuals as terrorists. After all, we have a constitutionally entrenched presumption of innocence.
Unlike in some Western democracies, we have neither adopted legislation setting out minimum jail terms, “three strikes and you’re out” sentencing policies or intrusive police powers, nor stringent detention and blacklisting mechanisms.
Some of our existing powers are already quite broad. With low crime rates, a decreasing incarceration rate and a low firearms presence, it is almost impossible to convince the polarised Legislative Council to pass laws that may impinge on rights or incur greater transaction costs.
The same inertia that prevents legislative overreach, unfortunately, also contributes to a complacent attitude towards legal reforms... Click here to read the full article.