Wednesday, November 1, 2017

Richard Cullen on Whether the National Anthem Law Should Apply Retrospectively (SCMP)

Richard Cullen
South China Morning Post
1 November 2017
A new national anthem law came into force in mainland China on October 1. The law will be added to Annex III of the Basic Law. Hong Kong is due to apply the law, adapted for the city, fairly soon.
     Most debate – implicitly accepting that the law will be applied in Hong Kong – has pivoted around the question of whether this law could be applied retroactively. This discussion has arisen, above all, because of the continuing verbal and written scorn directed at the national anthem at certain sporting events in Hong Kong. Some have argued that to discourage such behaviour, retroactive implementation of the law should be considered.
     Various claims made by certain lawyers and lawyer-politicians in essence argue that retroactive laws – or retrospective laws – do not exist within the criminal laws of the common law system. It follows from this, it is said, that the national anthem law (which will apply some level of criminal sanctions to any breaches) cannot be made to apply retroactively. Unfortunately, these claims are simply wrong. The highest courts in the UK and Australia, for example, have each given the green light to retroactive criminal laws... Click here to read the full article.

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