Nathan Law mounts legal challenge against police security decision during Zhang Dejiang visit, says rights violated

Student leader claims peaceful assembly and demonstration were unjustifiably restricted during the Chinese state leader’s three-day visit to the city in May

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 16 August, 2016, 2:18pm
UPDATED : Tuesday, 16 August, 2016, 10:40pm

Aspiring lawmaker Nathan Law Kwun-chung is mounting a legal challenge against the police decision to set up security zones in Hong Kong during Chinese state leader Zhang Dejiang’s three-day visit in May.

Law, who was on Monday spared jail over the storming of government headquarters in 2014, said in a writ filed at the High Court also on Monday, that the decision was “unconstitutional” because it was not prescribed by law.

The 23-year-old student leader is seeking a judicial review of the decision on the grounds that the measures were a “disproportionate restriction” to his constitutional right.

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On May 15, police announced a series of security measures and described them as a “counterterrorism operation”, two days before Zhang, the chairman of the National People’s Congress Standing Committee, visited the city.

Law said police did not explain the legal basis of setting up the security zones.

“There was also no clear demarcation in relation to the security zone revealed to the public,” he said in the writ.

Law claimed he did not know the exact boundary of the security zone, and the lack of specification undermined his attempt to stage a demonstration at the scene.

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The student leader, together with a few demonstrators, were allegedly subdued by at least ten policemen when they tried to make their way to the front of the water barriers placed on a road in Wan Chai where Zhang’s motorcade passed by on the first day of his trip.

Law argued that there was no evidence he was in any way related to terrorism.

At the time when he staged demonstrations, the student said, he was with a handful of demonstrators only.

Police should have facilitated his demonstration by, for instance, “sending just a few police officers” with him when he carried his placard with a slogan.

Peaceful demonstrators could not stage demonstration meaningfully in the areas designated by police, he added.

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Law said his constitutional rights to expression, peaceful assembly and demonstration were unjustifiably restricted, and asked the court to quash the police’s security zone decision.

Under the Basic Law, a constitutional document for the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region, the rights and freedoms enjoyed by Hong Kong residents shall not be restricted unless as prescribed by law.

Law is among 15 candidates vying for six Hong Kong Island Legislative Council seats at the upcoming elections.

For a full list of candidates, see here.