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Everyone in Hong Kong is Celebrating the Triumph of Rule of Law In the Snowden Case – But Is This Really a Celebration of Law, or Politics under the Cult of Rule of Law?

July 1st, 2013 4 comments

extradition cartoonFor the last week or so, Hong Kong has been (very publicly) celebrating the “rule of law” that it claims it has exhibited in letting Snowden leave the country despite strong U.S. pressure to arrest and extradite him.  The Hong Kong government made this official statement after Snowden left Hong Kong.

The US Government earlier on made a request to the HKSAR Government for the issue of a provisional warrant of arrest against Mr Snowden. Since the documents provided by the US Government did not fully comply with the legal requirements under Hong Kong law, the HKSAR Government has requested the US Government to provide additional information so that the Department of Justice could consider whether the US Government’s request can meet the relevant legal conditions. As the HKSAR Government has yet to have sufficient information to process the request for provisional warrant of arrest, there is no legal basis to restrict Mr Snowden from leaving Hong Kong.

Hong Kong Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying later cited the government’s action as “a good example to illustrate the rule of law and the procedural justice that we uphold.”  The people of Hong Kong for the most part do back Leung’s sentiments.  Even those who suspects illicit political motives seem to concede that Hong Kong did right following its laws, protocols and procedures.

While I am proud of Hong Kong in standing up to U.S. in the Snowden affairs, I urge caution that this is a triumph for rule of law. Rule of law connotates an absence of arbitrariness, an objectivity that is devoid of human whim and of politics.  But if the public thinks the Snowden case resulted from an objective, fair and impartial application of rules, I urge them to think twice. Read more…