Legal watchdog keeps eye on status

PUBLISHED : Monday, 12 August, 1996, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 12 August, 1996, 12:00am

Long-standing legal watchdog Justice severed its colonial ties and incorporated as a limited company years ago to ensure its continuity after the handover.

'We used to be a branch of the British section of Justice but we set up as an independent section of the International Commission of Jurists [ICJ],' Justice vice-chairman Gladys Li Chi-hei QC said.

Council member Wong Hay-yiu said the move was a direct result of consideration of Article 23 of the Basic Law.

However, Ms Li, also the chairman of Hong Kong Bar Association, contended otherwise.

'It may well be that we do engage in campaigns which might be seen to be political. We are the Hong Kong section of the ICJ, so that in itself may mean we fall foul of whatever law may be passed under Article 23.

'I don't think we can say that merely by becoming the Hong Kong section of the ICJ and merely by incorporating that we have guaranteed continuity and that we won't fall foul of any laws that are passed,' she said.

She argued that what would ensure continuity would be the degree of effort members put into the organisation.

Asked what could be done to ensure the organisation's survival, Ms Li said: 'I don't think there is any way of ensuring because it depends on what laws are passed.' But, she said, Justice would certainly provide input on bills when proposals were put up for the passing of laws under Article 23.

'Ultimately, it will be the legislature that passes the law. We would then assess how that affects the operation of Justice,' she said.

Ms Li said one primary aim of Justice was to uphold, maintain and promote the rule of law.