Court spectators jailed for sedition

As responsible lawyers, we read the latest sedition judgment (WKCC 928/2022, 27 Oct 2022) to consider the judge’s legal analysis before expressing outrage. Spoiler: there is only oppression charading as law.

Note first off this case was in the lowest courts, the magistracy. Magistrate Cheng Nim-chi isn’t known for being a bright legal mind – in 2019 he passed out unlawful assembly convictions for mere presence.

As did judges in previous cases, Cheng dismissed arguments that the sedition law was unconstitutional for abrogating the freedom of speech.

He also refused to look at jurisprudence from other jurisdictions, or internationally accepted principles.

Let’s look at what Cheng considered seditious:

1) Criticizing judges for not ruling according to law in a Youtube video

2) Criticizing a judge for acting improperly and humiliating a defence lawyer in a Youtube video

3) Venting about the magistrate who stopped courtgoers from clapping in Chow Hang Tung’s hearing in a Youtube video

4) Commenting that Hong Kong courts were acting as tools of oppression in a Youtube video

5) Clapping in court (during Chow’s hearing) and thereafter commenting that the magistrate had lost his conscience in the courtroom

6) Comments or words of protest upon being stopped from clapping in court

There’s not much by way of legal analysis that we can offer here. Just know that any criticism of Hong Kong courts, including throwaway comments made in the heat of the moment, is now criminal and can lead to imprisonment of up to 2 years.

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