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Top UK judges resign from Hong Kong court over security law

Courtesy: The south Chine Morning Post/BBC

Two senior British judges, including the president of the UK Supreme Court, have submitted their resignation from Hong Kong's highest court, saying their role was untenable because of a security law China imposed on the former British colony.

Hong Kong's Chief Executive Carrie Lam has responded with "regret and disappointment" to the resignations.

But the UK government supports the decision, and says the situation in the territory has now reached "a tipping point".

In 2020 China introduced a national security law that curtailed freedom of speech and made it easier to punish protesters in Hong Kong.

UK Supreme Court President Lord Robert Reed said he and Lord Patrick Hodge were resigning from the court over the threat to civil freedoms posed by the new law.

“The judges of the Supreme Court cannot continue to sit in Hong Kong without appearing to endorse an administration which has departed from values of political freedom, and freedom of expression", Robert Reed said.

Under the Basic Law – Hong Kong’s mini-constitution – senior judges from common law jurisdictions are able to sit as non-permanent members of the Court of Final Appeal.

Eight of the 12 current overseas non-permanent judges sitting on the court are British.

It was unclear whether the British judges who are not members of the Supreme Court would also be withdrawing from the Hong Kong court with immediate effect.

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