Towards a Continuum Model: Securing Public Order and Safeguarding Human Rights in Postcolonial Hong Kong

By Ming-chun Sinn and Cheuk-lun Yuen.

Published by The International Journal of Civic, Political, and Community Studies

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In this paper, we critically examine the interconnected disciplines of human rights and law enforcement in the postcolonial context of Hong Kong. An overview of the human rights law regime in Hong Kong, circa 1842, will first be provided, followed by an examination of three public order incidents and constitutional judgments pertaining to the freedom of speech and assembly made by the Court of Final Appeal at the juncture of postcolonial Hong Kong. To break through the essentialist way of thinking, we then postulate a continuum model to argue that civil liberties and law enforcement are not binary, but posited on a continuum along a spectrum. We shall also debunk three myths that civil liberties are unfettered; that law enforcement is a nemesis of human rights; and that discretionary power of law enforcement officers should be eliminated. In coda, we hope to cultivate a more tolerant, pluralistic, and accommodating spirit in postcolonial Hong Kong.

Keywords: Public Order, Law Enforcement, Human Rights, Constitutional Judgments, Hong Kong

The International Journal of Civic, Political, and Community Studies, Volume 12, Issue 3-4, January 2015, pp.15-28. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 663.588KB).

Ming-chun Sinn

Student, Laws Consortium, University of London, UK

Ming-chun Sinn is currently studying the Bachelor of Laws (Graduate Entry) of the University of London International Programme. He received his co-terminal double degrees in Bachelor of Arts (English Studies) and Bachelor of Education (English Language Education) (First Class Honours) from The Chinese University of Hong Kong in 2010 as well as Postgraduate Certificate in Public Order Studies from the School of Professional and Continuing Education, The University of Hong Kong in 2014. He has published a number of papers and sits on the editorial boards of leading international research journals including The International Journal of the Book, The International Journal of Learning, The International Journal of Diversity in Organizations, Communities and Nations and The International Journal of the Humanities. His current research focuses on jurisprudence beyond Northo-centric epistemologies as well as human rights law regime pertaining to public order and prostitution in postcolonial Hong Kong.

Cheuk-lun Yuen

Student, Faculty of Law, The University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong

Cheuk-lun Yuen is currently studying Postgraduate Certificate in Laws (equivalent to the Legal Practice Course in England and Wales) at The University of Hong Kong. Keen on clinical legal education, he also provides pro bono legal service for the community at The University of Hong Kong. Graduated with Bachelor of Laws (First Class Honours) from The University of Hong Kong in 2014, he is interested in legal philosophy, public international law, property law and insolvency law. His current research focuses on private international law and human rights law regime pertaining to prostitution in postcolonial Hong Kong.