No law against displaying Tibetan flag: experts

PUBLISHED : Friday, 25 April, 2008, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 25 April, 2008, 12:00am


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Legal experts have questioned under what law the authorities might be able to take action against people peacefully displaying a Tibetan flag.

They also said any decision to try to stop the Tibetan flag, or any other flag, being displayed would be open to judicial review.

'There is no law against any display of any flag,' legislator and barrister Margaret Ng Ngoi-yee said.

'This is freedom of expression, and it would be very alarming if police should stop people from displaying it.

'If people attacked the torch-bearer or behaved violently, then the police could act, but merely displaying of flag - I don't see how they could justify stopping it.'

Human-rights lawyer Mark Daly agreed, noting that the only laws he knew of that might be invoked, such as that against sedition, were from colonial times and were quite severe in application.

'It would be remarkable for the government to even consider using such draconian measures,' Mr Daly said.

He and several other lawyers said the case might have been different if the controversial national security legislation mandated by Article 23 of the Basic Law had been passed five years ago.

The proposed law would have made it an offence to incite or promote the secession of any part of the People's Republic.

Law Yuk-kai, of Hong Kong Human Rights Monitor, observed that police had a duty to help facilitate demonstrations, even if they were likely to be politically sensitive or divisive.

'Unless the police want to take a political role and pay the legal consequences later, it is very clear in Hong Kong that just expression - whenever it is peaceful - will not be caught by any law,' Mr Law said.