The president of the Law Society of Hong Kong has said that denying bail to defendants and keeping them in remand for long periods pending trial in national security cases was “not ideal.”

Law Society Chan Chak-ming
The President of the Law Society of Hong Kong Chan Chak-ming (middle) met the press on November 15. Photo: Almond Li/HKFP.

“These situations where [the defendants] are remanded before trial, or not granted bail, are not ideal. I not only communicated that with overseas friends, but have also told the Hong Kong government multiple times that the situation should be improved,” Chan Chak-ming told reporters on Tuesday afternoon.

He was meeting the press after recently returning from his first visit to the UK as president of the solicitors’ group, where he attended the opening of the legal year in late September. Three vice-presidents of the society also attended Tuesday’s meeting.

“If a person was found guilty after a court trial, he or she should accept the punishment. If not, of course they should not be remanded,” Chan said.

“Before a sentence is handed down, keeping people behind bars for a relatively long period of time is not ideal,” he added.

Law Society Chan Chak-ming
The Law Society met the press on November 15. Photo: Almond Li/HKFP.

Defendants charged in national security cases face a stricter bail standard, as they would only be granted bail if the judge believed there were sufficient grounds for believing that the suspect would not continue to endanger national security.

As of June 30, 23 per cent of those arrested for national security offences were granted bail.

When HKFP asked what concerns people in other countries had towards Hong Kong’s national security law, Chan said “people tend to simplify things” when learning about Beijing’s implementation of the security legislation through the news.

Chan said there has always been a mechanism in the city’s Basic Law to allow national laws to become applicable to Hong Kong for “things outside of Hong Kong’s autonomy, including defence, foreign affairs and national security.”

“When you go through these technicalities, they will start to understand,” he said, adding that “I am not here to paint a glossy picture of Hong Kong. I’m just telling the truth.”

Additional reporting: Almond Li

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Peter Lee

Peter Lee is a reporter for HKFP. He was previously a freelance journalist at Initium, covering political and court news. He holds a Global Communication bachelor degree from CUHK.