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Hong Kong court hears bail appeal for democracy activists


Hong Kong court hears bail appeal for democracy activists

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Photo: Roy Issa

The High Court of Hong Kong will today conclude its review of a lower court bail decision rendered in favour of detained pro-democracy activists.

Dozens of pro-democracy Hongkongers were recently charged with conspiracy to commit subversion under a national security law inserted by Beijing last year into Hong Kong’s Basic Law—Hong Kong’s de facto constitution. Detainees petitioned for bail, which was granted to 15 protesters under strict conditions. The prosecution immediately appealed the decision.

The charges follow activists’ organisation of unofficial primary elections ahead of Hong Kong’s twice-delayed Legislative Council elections. Hong Kong’s government attributed the deferral—originally set for September 2020—to COVID-19. However, democrats maintain that the delays represent Chinese Communist Party (CCP) attempts to undermine Hong Kong’s autonomy following pro-democracy protests in 2019.

Expect the High Court to remand the activists to pre-trial detention per the 2020 national security legislation. As Beijing presses for greater control over Hong Kong, the opposition will likely find the courts reluctant to rule against Beijing’s interests for fear of reprisal. Looking ahead, expect CCP attempts at political consolidation in Hong Kong to become increasingly overt, with Beijing likely to issue further restrictive interpretations of Hong Kong’s Basic Law and alter the Legislative Council’s composition to exclude the opposition bloc.

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