Chief Justice Andrew Cheung Kui-nung provided a timely reminder on Saturday that Hong Kong judges administer justice “without fear or favour”. He was speaking in general terms, but his comments came a day after a District Court judge had been the victim of threatening and intimidating telephone calls. Such attempts to instil fear in those who preside over the city’s courts should not be tolerated. The perpetrators of this cowardly crime must be swiftly arrested. Attacks on the city’s judges aim to undermine their independence and weaken the rule of law. The calls were made to the office of Judge Amanda Woodcock. She had earlier that day imposed sentences on media tycoon Jimmy Lai Chee-ying and nine other opposition figures of up to 18 months in jail for their part in an illegal rally in 2019. Police are investigating the threatening calls. The sentences have been welcomed by some and seen as too harsh by others. But no matter how controversial the case, the attempt to intimidate Woodcock is disgraceful. Foreign judges have at times come under fire from the pro-establishment camp. This time, the criticism is coming from the other side of the political divide. Woodcock was born in Hong Kong, studied law in England, and has served with the judiciary since 1998. Judges, no matter where they come from, are just doing their job. Sadly, this is not the first time threatening calls have been made to the judiciary. Chief Magistrate Victor So Wai-tak was told he and his family would be bombed after denying Lai bail in a different case in December. These are the most serious examples of an alarming, but persistent, trend that has seen the judiciary come under attack when handling cases arising from protests. Supporters of both political camps have been involved. The judiciary has also received thousands of complaints of bias. Top Hong Kong judge condemns ‘repeated’ attacks on judicial independence Cheung, speaking at a ceremony for the admission of new Senior Counsel, warned that “repeated and gratuitous questioning of the judiciary’s independence” is damaging the rule of law and public confidence in the courts. The questioning, as Cheung pointed out, is based on nothing other than disagreement with court decisions. He called on senior barristers to speak out in defence of the judiciary’s reputation at home and overseas. Support for the judiciary must come from society as a whole. It is good to see the Bar Association, Law Society and central government condemning the threatening calls to the judge. Backing is needed for the judiciary as an institution, no matter which way judges have ruled or which political camp they have upset. The city’s judges must be free to continue to decide cases independently, without fear or favour. The rule of law depends on it.