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Hong Kong announces emergency law to ban masks at demonstrations

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Hong Kong announces emergency law to ban masks at demonstrations

Hong Kong leader, Carrie Lam, on Friday, banned the wearing of face masks at “unlawful and unauthorised” protests in order to help quell the violent demonstrations that have rocked the city for nearly four months.


“Although we are evoking the emergency regulation, Hong Kong is not in a state of emergency,’’ Lam said.

She added that public order was now in danger from radical student protesters who had vandalised underground stations and thrown petrol bombs at police.

The regulation, which is due to go into effect at midnight (1600 GMT), says protesters could face up to one year in prison and a fine of up to 25,000 Hong Kong dollars ($3,187) for failing to comply under the new legislation.

The law offers exemptions to residents who need to wear face coverings for medical conditions, religious reasons or professional employment.

It will only extend to “unlawful assemblies” of more than five people.

Although, most anti-government demonstrations in recent weeks have proceeded without approval as police failed to give approval to marches organised by the democracy coalition Civil Human Rights Front.

“By banning the use of facial coverings, this will prevent people from breaking the law.

“This is not unreasonable,’’ said Secretary for Security, John Lee.

“We see that public order in Hong Kong is under serious threat.

“Some acted violently, very violently.

“So now, everyone – journalists, citizens and police – is in danger.’’

Masks have been worn across the protest movement, including by journalists and medical volunteers, to conceal identity but also for safety as police regularly fire tear gas and pepper spray for crowd dispersal.

Journalists, however, will be exempted from the law, according to Lee.

The mask regulation makes use of little-used legislation from 1922 that grants the chief executive sweeping powers, although it will have to be approved formally when the legislature returns to session in two weeks to become law.

The decision, which was leaked by local media on Thursday, has already been widely criticised as unconstitutional and Lam’s use of the Emergency Regulations Ordinance will likely face a judicial review by Hong Kong’s common-law courts.

“When the legislation was enacted, there was no human rights law in effect during that time.

“The law itself gives full power to the government to regulate any behaviour considered unsuitable,’’ Billy Li, a convenor of Hong Kong’s Progressive Lawyers’ Group, told dpa.

Since 1922, Hong Kong has become a party to a number of intentional human rights treaties including the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, he said.

A mask ban may be more challenging to overturn as similar laws exist in other common-law jurisdictions.

Canada in 2013 introduced an anti-mask law for “riots and unlawful assemblies’’ that carries up to 10 years in prison.

A number of U.S. states and cities also have historic anti-mask laws, many of which are linked to the white supremacist Ku Klux Klan group.

Li, however, said the anti-mask legislation would likely have little or no deterrent effect as the threat of jail time for “unlawful assembly” and “rioting” has not kept Hong Kongers from the streets since demonstrations began on June 9.

The mask ban was expected to lead to more protests over the weekend, even as demonstrations near the four-month mark.

They began against a separate piece of legislation also championed by Lam that would have allowed for Hong Kong residents to stand trial in mainland China.

Hong Kong democracy activist Joshua Wong said on Twitter on Friday that the mask law was “no less harmful than the extradition bill as virtually the law gives the Chief Executive mighty power to impose whatever she and Beijing like’’.

He also tweeted that Hong Kong would see more “arbitrary arrest and search, extending detention to 96 hours or more, banning internet access, de facto martial laws are highly expected’’.

AIB

(NAN)

Edited by Abdulfatah Babatunde

Babatunde Abdulfatah: is a graduate and a professionally trained journalist, with experience in national news reporting/editing and verification at the News Agency of Nigeria. NNN is a Nigerian online news portal that publishes breaking news in Nigeria, and across the world. Our journalists are honest, fair, accurate, thorough and courageous in gathering, reporting and interpreting news in the best interest of the public, because truth is the cornerstone of journalism and they strive diligently to ascertain the truth in every news report. Contact: editor[at]nnn.com.ng

Foreign

Trump claims he cancelled weekend golfing to stop anarchists

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United States President Donald Trump was meant to spend the weekend at his golf course in New Jersey, but the White House on Friday abruptly cancelled the trip.


Trump later tweeted that he was staying in Washington to prevent chaos – apparently referencing attempts to tear down statues of historical figures – even as no major protests are planned.

The cancellation of the trip comes amid a spike in coronavirus cases across areas of the south and south-western United States, raising sharp concerns among public health officials.

The country this week broke its own records for the single most daily new infections.

“I was going to go to Bedminster, New Jersey, this weekend, but wanted to stay in Washington, D.C. to make sure LAW & ORDER is enforced.

The arsonists, anarchists, looters, and agitators have been largely stopped,” Trump said.

“I am doing what is necessary to keep our communities safe — and these people will be brought to Justice!,” he added.

Trump later said he signed an executive order that would protect United States monuments, memorials, and statues and promised “long prison terms” for those who committed “lawless acts against our Great Country!”

Destroying federal property, including statues, is already a crime that faces a possible prison sentence of 10 years.

Statues and monuments with racist legacies have been toppled and destroyed by protesters across the country in recent weeks as the nation undergoes a reckoning with its history following the death of George Floyd, a black man, in police custody last month.

Earlier in the week, protesters had tried to tear down statues in Washington, including of former presidents Andrew Jackson and Abraham Lincoln, but were thwarted by police.

Trump has been downplaying concerns over the coronavirus and has pivoted to presenting himself as an old-school tough-on-crime conservative in recent weeks.

Earlier in the day, the Democratic-dominated House of Representatives voted to grant Washington statehood, which would reduce Trump’s control over the federal territory, though the bill will die in the Republican-controlled Senate.

Edited By: Emmanuel Yashim (NAN)

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Hong Kong group launches online petition against foreign interference

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A Hong Kong organization on Monday launched an online petition in protest of the interference of United States-led foreign forces in China‘s internal affairs and their threats to impose sanctions against Hong Kong after China’s national legislature decided to make Hong Kong national security laws.


The organizer of the campaign, called the United Front Supporting National Security Legislation, urged residents to actively sign the petition to voice their opposition to foreign interference.

Tam Yiu-chung, an initiator of the online petition against foreign interference, attends a press conference in Hong Kong, south China, June 15, 2020. (Xinhua/Li Gang)

Tam Yiu-chung, an initiator of the online petition against foreign interference, attends a press conference in Hong Kong, south China, June 15, 2020. (Xinhua/Li Gang)

Tam Yiu-chung, an initiator of the campaign, said at a press conference on Monday that the legislation is China’s internal affair and the interference from the United States and other countries blatantly violated the principle of international laws and the norms of international relations.

External forces do not care about Hong Kong’s democracy, freedom and prosperity but just tried to use Hong Kong to contain China’s development, Tam said, stressing that such interference will be in vain.

Regina Ip Lau Suk-yee, an initiator of the campaign and the chairwoman of the New People’s Party, said that the United States applied double standard in unwarrantedly criticizing China’s reasonable action to safeguard the national security while itself had made multiple and stringent national security laws.

The national security legislation will bring prosperity and stability to Hong Kong and benefit the cause of “one country, two systems,” she said.

Starry Lee Wai-king, an initiator of the online petition against foreign interference, attends a press conference in Hong Kong, south China, June 15, 2020. (Xinhua/Li Gang)

Starry Lee Wai-king, an initiator of the online petition against foreign interference, attends a press conference in Hong Kong, south China, June 15, 2020. (Xinhua/Li Gang)

Starry Lee Wai-king, another initiator and the chairwoman of the Democratic Alliance for the Betterment and Progress of Hong Kong, called on Hong Kong residents to sign the petition to say no to external forces loud and clear.

The online petition will end on June 30.

Nearly 2.93 million Hong Kong residents signed a previous petition organized by the group in support of the national security legislation in an eight-day campaign.

(XINHUA)

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National anthem law takes effect in Hong Kong

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The Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR) government announced on Friday that the National Anthem Ordinance has been published in the Gazette and came into effect Friday.


A government spokesperson said in a statement that the core legislative principle is to promote respect for the national anthem, which is the symbol and sign of the country, and provide guidance on the standard, etiquette, and occasions for playing and singing of the national anthem.

The law prohibits and imposes penalties on the misuse of the national anthem and public acts with an intent to insult the national anthem, the spokesperson said, noting that there is no cause for concern of breaching the law inadvertently.

The HKSAR government will strengthen the publicity and educational efforts of the national anthem and has set up a dedicated webpage to inform the public about the law and provide the standard scores and official recordings of the national anthem, the spokesperson said.

The Education Bureau will update its teaching materials to educate students on the history and spirit of the national anthem and the etiquette for playing and singing the national anthem.

China‘s National Anthem Law came into force in 2017 and then the Standing Committee of the 12th National People’s Congress adopted the decision to add the law to Annex III to the HKSAR Basic Law.

In accordance with Article 18 of the Basic Law, the national laws listed in Annex III to the Basic Law shall be applied locally by way of promulgation or legislation by the HKSAR.

Hong Kong’s Legislative Council passed the National Anthem Bill earlier in June.

(XINHUA)

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N. Korea newspaper says Hong Kong belongs to China

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North Korea’s main newspaper on Thursday said Hong Kong belongs to China, not to “the West,” expressing support for the neighbouring ally amid intensifying rivalry between Washington and Beijing.


“Every country has a law to protect the safety of its country, the action China is taking against behaviours that pose a threat to its country is a fair exercise of its own sovereignty,’’ the Rodong Sinmun said.

Thea paper said that the reason the bill had not been legislated for the past 23 years since Hong Kong has been under China’s control was because anti-Chinese groups in the West had meddled aggressively with the Hong Kong issue.

North Korea has long taken China’s side in disputes between Washington and Beijing.

China is the North’s last major ally and a key provider of food and fuel supplies.

ACO/

Edited By: Abiodun Oluleye (NAN)

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Contact US: editor @nnn.com.ng, nnnnews247 @gmail.com

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