Top court asked to seek Beijing's advice in abode case

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 13 December, 2012, 7:32pm
UPDATED : Thursday, 13 December, 2012, 9:41pm

The Department of Justice suggested on Thursday that the city’s top court ask Beijing to clarify an interpretation of the Basic Law it made in 1999, in a bid to resolve legal issues relating to two right of abode cases.

Secretary for Justice Rimsky Yuen Kwok-keung said the government wanted a clarification of how much binding power the opinion of a Beijing-appointed 1996 preparatory committee – mentioned in the 1999 interpretation – would have on right of abode cases relating to foreign domestic helpers and babies born to mainlanders in Hong Kong.

Yuen said the clarification would help the city handle these cases.

It is now up to the Court of Final Appeal to decide whether to seek the clarification from Beijing.

In its 1999 interpretation, the Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress stated that the Basic Laws’ Article 24 meant that a child had the right of abode when at least one parent was a Hong Kong resident.

The committee said this was the legislative intent of Basic Law drafters and was reflected by the preparatory committee in 1996.

The interpretation in effect drastically reduced the number of mainlanders eligible for the right of abode.

Yuen on Thursday dismissed concerns that the justice department’s latest move would undermine Hong Kong’s judicial independence and rule of law.

He said it was in accordance with the Basic Law for the top court to ask the NPC for interpretations.