Proper understanding of National Security Law

The National Security Law (NSL) came into effect on June 30 last year. All in all, Hong Kong has reverted to a safe, rational and inclusive society. In order to enhance the understanding of the NSL among the public, the Department of Justice (DoJ) held the National Security Law Legal Forum titled “Security Brings Prosperity” on July 5.

The forum comprised keynote speeches highlighting the features and effects of the NSL, as well as three panel discussions. One of the panel discussions was conducted by four scholars to compare the national security laws of various jurisdictions. The four types of offence set out under the NSL are in fact similar to those in foreign countries. Some countries vest more drastic powers in their law enforcement agencies than those in Hong Kong under the NSL. A speaker even pointed out that there is a country which could put people, who are suspected of endangering national security, in detention without charge for two years.

You are all welcome to review the forum at DoJ’s website to learn more about the NSL

On the night of July 1, a man attempted to murder a police officer on duty before committing suicide. Initial investigations by the police indicated that it is a “lone wolf-style act of domestic terrorism”. As the investigation is still ongoing, no one should comment on the case details. However, I would like to briefly explain some legal principles so that the public can have a proper understanding.

Article 27 of the NSL specifies the offence of “advocating terrorism”. According to the opinion of a textbook on the NSL, “advocating” refers to the act of propagating, defending or glorifying the theory and practice of terrorism. On “advocating terrorism”, no one could use freedom of speech, of publication or of the press, etc, as an excuse to advocate or defend terrorist activities and such beliefs or theories, and must not promote or cheer for the “mutual destruction” slogans and propositions that would endanger the safety of public lives and properties or disrupt public order. In fact, many countries such as the United Kingdom, Australia and France have already put in place relevant laws to prohibit advocating or glorifying terrorism.

There is an assertion that only attacks targeting civilians are considered terrorism, whereas those targeting the authorities or law enforcement personnel do not constitute terrorism. However, one could easily tell, by making reference to the United Nations Security Council resolutions and anti-terrorism laws of different countries, that serious criminal acts, irrespective of their targets being civilians or any particular persons, with the purpose to provoke a state of terror in order to compel a government, are regarded as terrorism. Such common sense is however distorted by some so-called “scholars”. It is truly disgraceful of those teachers to have misled their students and set a bad example.

A number of people wrongly described criminal acts as “heroic”. Some even brought their children to express “condolences” by leaving flowers at the crime scene. There is also a student organisation expressing “gratitude” to the assailant. No sensible person would have agreed to glorify those criminal acts. Such perverse practices are immoral and confusing right from wrong.

Let’s imagine, what would be the consequence if terrorist activities have been imitated by others? Legally speaking, everyone should be prudent and make his or her remarks responsibly. No one should glorify or advocate terrorist activities. Morally speaking, no one should directly or indirectly advocate or heroise terrorism as it depraves society.

I hope the above could raise the vigilance towards terrorist activities and advocacies of terrorism, so that people would not blindly believe in twisted facts against their conscience. I also wish that all of us appreciate the stability and prosperity brought about by the NSL. So, let’s join hands together to achieve our common goal of “Security Brings Prosperity”.

July 10, 2021