Source: Hong Kong Information Services
The Government welcomed the judgment delivered by the Court of Final Appeal (CFA) today on the Emergency Regulations Ordinance.
It said that the judgment upheld the compatibility of the ordinance with the Basic Law and the proportionality of the restrictions of rights in prohibiting the use of facial coverings at public order events contained in the Prohibition on Face Covering Regulation.
The CFA acknowledged that the very nature of the ordinance requires the giving of wide and flexible legislative powers to the executive to deal with emergencies or public dangers quickly and adequately. Given these situations, it should be left to the judgment of the Chief Executive in Council to make regulations which she may consider desirable in the public interest.
The CFA also pointed out that such legislative powers are necessary in particular when the Legislative Council may not be able to function and respond promptly enough or at all to the occasion of emergency or public danger in terms of passing the requisite legislation.
Regarding the Prohibition on Face Covering Regulation, the court noted certain rights are affected by the prohibitions imposed by the regulation but emphasised that the rights are not absolute and may be subject to lawful restrictions, including the interests of public safety, public order and the protection of others’ rights and freedoms.
Additionally, the court agreed that the regulation’s preventative and deterrent nature is crucial and the need to prevent the deterioration of peaceful gatherings into violence is an integral part of the legitimate aim.
The Government said it fully echoed the CFA’s views that, when striking a fair balance between societal and individual interests, the interests of Hong Kong as a whole should be taken into account since the rule of law was being undermined by the actions of masked lawbreakers who were seemingly free to act with impunity by concealing their identities.