The Chinese National People’s Congress Standing Committee (NPCSC) Friday adjudicated that Hong Kong Chief Executive John Lee must certify the appointment of overseas lawyers as defense counsel or litigation agent in a case concerning a national security offence pursuant to Article 14 and Article 47 of the Hong Kong National Security Law (NSL).In November Lee requested an interpretation in accordance with Article 65 of the National Security Law (NSL) after Hong Kong’s top court dismissed a bid to forbid former media mogul Jimmy Lai to hire Timothy Owen, a UK barrister, as his defense counsel on NSL collusion charges. Under Article 65, “the power of interpretation of [NSL] shall be vested in the Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress.”After deliberation, NPCSC reiterated the power vested in the Committee for Safeguarding National Security of the HKSAR to make legally binding decisions on the executive, legislative and judicial branches of the Hong Kong government in cases under Article 14. It also ruled that if the courts have not obtained the certificate issued by the Chief Executive, which is binding on courts, the committee should have the duty to evaluate and decide on the particular dispute.Lee welcomed and thanked the NPCSC for the interpretation, promising that the committee and the Hong Kong government would fully carry out duties stipulated in the interpretation. Lee also said the committee would evaluate and decide on whether foreign lawyers could be qualified in national security cases, where the policies shall be adopted.
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