何謂人大釋法?

What do we mean by NPCSC’s interpretation of the Basic Law?

人大即全國人民代表大會常務委員會,是中國最高國家權力機關的常設機構。全國人大常委會組成人員在全國代表大會代表中產生。香港的人大代表共有36人,在香港的1200人選舉委員會中產生。

釋法即對《中華人民共和國香港特別行政區基本法》(基本法)作出立法解釋。《基本法》第158條說明「本法的解釋權屬於全國人民代表大會常務委員會」,因此人大常委會擁有基本法之釋法權力。

The National People’s Congress Standing Committee (NPCSC) is the standing committee of the NPC, which is the legislature of the PRC. It has the constitutional authority to modify legislation within limits set by the NPC, and thus acts as a de facto legislative body. Hong Kong has 36 representatives in the NPC, all elected in the 1200 people election committee. Article 158 of the Basic Law gives the NPCSC the power to interpret the Basic Law.


人大可以在什麼時候釋法?

When can the NPCSC interpret the Basic Law?

此問題具爭議性。基本法第158條列明,香港特別行政區法院為唯一認可機構可主動向人大提出釋法請求。然而,在人大五次釋法中,只有2011年「剛果民主共和國案」是由終審法院主動提請,其餘四次均由人大主動釋法,或由時任的行政長官提請人大釋法。範圍方面,根據《基本法》條文,人大只應在案件涉及「中央人民政府管理的事務或中央和香港特別行政區關係的條款」時進行釋法。而香港特別行政區自治範圍內的條款,本港法院在審理案件時有權對條款進行解釋。

不過,在1999年的劉港榕訴入境處處長一案中,特區終審法院曾反駁以上觀點,並於判詞中寫明,全國人大常委會擁有對香港基本法的主動解釋權,而其解釋權是「全面而不受限制的(general and unqualified)」。宣布參選行政長官的退休法官胡國興指出,根據《基本法》第158條,人大常委會有權主動釋法,並不是違法的事,惟他認為「觀感不好」,「好像會給予法官壓力」。

This is a controversial question. Article 158 of the Basic Law states that Hong Kong’s Supreme Court is the only recognised body to request an NPC interpretation. However, in the NPC’s past 5 interpretations, only one was requested by the Supreme Court. The same article also stipulates that the NPC should only issue an interpretation when matters relate to China’s affairs or the relationship between China’s central government and the Hong Kong SAR.

However, in the case of Lau Kong Yong (1999), Hong Kong’s Supreme Court rejected the above analysis. It stated that the NPC can initiate an interpretation and does not have to wait for the Supreme Court’s request. It further held that the NPC’s power of interpretation is general and unqualified.


人大釋法符合法治嗎?

Does the NPC’s interpretation accord with the Rule of Law?

法治精神(Rule of Law)由阿爾伯特·戴西(Dicey)在其著作《英憲精義》中提出,在現今社會有不同的詮釋。前大律師公會主席石永泰指出,內地對「法治制度」的了解是只要政權做的事有法律授權,便是符合法治。在這狹義下(formal conception),釋法的確符合法治。但石指出,香港和西方文明社會崇尚的一套「法治精神」不僅限於法律條文,即使做事符合法律,也不一定與法治精神吻合,這稱之為對法治之廣義(substantive conception)的了解,包含保障人權及各種自由等權利。

於健全的司法制度下,根據三權分立的原則,獨立的法院應對憲法有最終審判權及最終解釋權。石解釋,若果容許立法者制定法律後再解釋,很容易出現隨時間或政治需要而改變法例意思的情況,亦令立法者可以藉釋法之名主導法庭的裁判,導致立法機關權力過大。

The Rule of Law is a concept coined by the constitutional lawyer AV Dicey and now has two major conceptions. Former Chair of the HK Bar Association Mr Paul Shieh says in an interview that mainland China’s understanding of the Rule of Law is a ‘formal’ one - as long as what the ruling party is doing goes with statutory provisions, it is in accordance with the Rule of Law. However, he points out that in Hong Kong and most Western societies, we subscribe to the ‘substantive’ conception of the rule of law, which incorporates more than merely satisfying statutory provisions, but also protection for fundamental human rights and freedom.

In a sound legal system, according to the principles of Separation of Powers, an independent judiciary should enjoy the power to final adjudication and interpretation. Mr Shieh explains that if we allow the legislature to interpret laws after making them, it may seek to change the meaning of statutes according to prevailing political needs. This would lead to an overly powerful legislature.


人大過往曾經幾多次釋法?

How many times have the NPC issued an interpretation?

人大在今次釋法前一共對《基本法》進行了4次解釋,其中兩次是港府主動提請人大釋法、一次是全國人大主動進行,一次是由終審法院提出。

第一次釋法

1999年1月29日,香港終審法院就「吳嘉玲案」宣判,指出所有香港人在內地所生的子女均可行使居港權。這判決令香港人在內地所生的非婚生子女都享有居港權,包括私生子女在內。當時的保安局局長葉劉淑儀估計這將會為香港社會帶來沉重的人口壓力,因此特區政府尋求人大釋法。 同年6月,人大常委會對《基本法》作出解釋,指出只有香港人在內地所生的婚生子女才享有居港權。

第二次釋法

2004年人大就第三屆特首及立法會產生辦法主動釋法,解釋基本法中「行政長官及立法會產生辦法和法案議案表決程序」,將原本啟動政改的「三部曲」,變為「五部曲」。此舉令原有的項法律程序(須經立法會全體議員三分之二多數通過,行政長官同意,並報全國人大常委會批准或者備案)變成5項。額外兩項分別為:(1)特首要就政改先向人大常委提交報告,及(2)報告要由人大常委批准。

第三次釋法

2005年3月,時任特首董建華辭職,引發各界對下任特首任期的爭論。港府遂提請人大釋法,要求其對《基本法》第53條有關新的行政長官的任期,作出解釋,最後人大說明補選特首任期為前任特首餘下任期,並非新的5年任期。

第四次釋法

第四次釋法是首次,亦是唯一一次由司法機構提出的,因此亦是最不受爭議的。此案涉及2011年剛果政府在港商業糾紛,因剛果政府以案件涉外交豁免權,要求終院提請人大釋法,而人大常委決議港府須跟從中央政府,對剛果實施外交豁免權。

The NPC has issued 4 interpretations before the recent one. For an English account of the NPC’s previous interpretations of the Basic Law, please visit this link http://qz.com/828713/a-brief-history-beijings-interpretations-of-hong-kongs-basic-law-from-1999-to-the-present-day/

 


是次釋法

人大釋法事件起因為何?

What sparked the recent interpretation of the Basic Law?

2016年10月12日,立法會開始新一屆任期,議員同日宣誓就任。宣誓時,青年新政後任立法會議員游蕙禎和梁頌恆在以英語宣誓時,將「China」讀成「支那」。游蕙禎更將「People's Republic of China」中的「Republic」讀成「Re-fuxking」。立法會秘書長陳維安指兩人改變了誓詞,認為二人未能完成宣誓程序。立法會主席梁君彥及後決定,梁及游可於第二次大會中再次宣誓。

但特首梁振英突然提出司法覆核及臨時禁制令,力圖阻止二人重新宣誓就任立法會議員,在11月3日開庭。雙方以及立法會代表各自表述理據後,法官區慶祥稱會盡快頒下書面判詞。在法院仍未有判決時,人大突然主動提出就《基本法》第104條「釋法」,以界定何謂「依法宣誓」,又列明不依法宣誓的後果,以及確立監誓人的權力。

On October 12th, new Legislative Council members took their oaths. When doing so, legislators-elect Yau Wai Ching and Leung Chung Hang of the party Youthspiration read the oath in a way that some deemed disrespectful to China and the Chinese people. The oath administrator declared the oath void and the president of the Legislative Council, Andrew Leung, decided that the duo can retake their oaths at the next meeting.

Before that can happen, Chief Executive CY Leung filed for judicial review of Leung’s decision to allow them to retake their oaths. Before High Court judge Mr Justice Thomas Au has delivered his judgment, the NPC issued an interpretation of Article 104 of the Basic Law, providing definitions of what it means by taking an oath ‘in accordance with the law’ and stating the consequences of failing to take the oath properly.


人大釋法內容總結

Summary of the NPC’s interpretation

基本法第104條規定相關公職人員就職時必須「依法」宣誓。人大解釋「依法」具有以下含意:

(一)宣誓是該條所列公職人員就職的法定條件和必經程序。未進行合法有效宣誓或者拒絕宣誓,不得就任相應公職,不得行使相應職權和享受相應待遇。

(二)宣誓必須符合法定的形式和內容要求。宣誓人必須真誠、莊重地進行宣誓,必須準確、完整、莊重地宣讀包括「擁護中華人民共和國香港特別行政區基本法,效忠中華人民共和國香港特別行政區」內容的法定誓言。

(三)宣誓人拒絕宣誓,即喪失就任該條所列相應公職的資格。宣誓人故意宣讀與法定誓言不一致的誓言或者以任何不真誠、不莊重的方式宣誓,也屬於拒絕宣誓,所作宣誓無效,宣誓人即喪失就任該條所列相應公職的資格。

(四)宣誓必須在法律規定的監誓人面前進行。監誓人負有確保宣誓合法進行的責任,對符合本解釋和香港特別行政區法律規定的宣誓,應確定為有效宣誓;對不符合本解釋和香港特別行政區法律規定的宣誓,應確定為無效宣誓,並不得重新安排宣誓。

When assuming office, lawmakers and principal officials and others must “correctly, completely, and solemnly” swear a scripted oath, including the part saying “I will uphold the Basic Law of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region of the People’s Republic of China, bear allegiance to the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region of the People’s Republic of China,” the interpretation says. If lawmakers and others reject to take the oath, or purposefully read their own lines or take the oath “not genuinely or solemnly,” they will be deprived of their right to assume office—and there is no chance to retake it.


釋法為何與我有關?

Why should I care?

人大每次釋法,都削弱港人對基本法和一國兩制的信心。今次人大以「依法」兩字大造文章,開了壞先例,令人憂慮人大能隨時對其他《基本法》條文作出類似修法的「釋法」,動搖一國兩制的基礎。一旦釋法成為慣例,中共以後能夠藉此插手香港的各項事務。

人大在高等法院還未有判決時便主動提出釋法,是向本港法院施壓,扮演審判此案的「主導者」,直接衝擊香港《基本法》第19條賦予的司法獨立和終審權。此例一開,令人憂慮以後只要人大認為有需要釋法,便可架空香港的司法和立法系統,直接代替香港法院。此舉無疑是收窄香港在一國兩制底下的自治空間。

Every time the NPC issues an interpretation, it weakens Hong Kong people’s confidence in the Basic Law and One Country Two Systems. It leads to worries that the NPC can interpret, and in effect modify, any article of the Basic Law at will, thereby undermining the foundation of One Country Two Systems. If NPC interpreting the Basic Law becomes a norm, the Chinese Communist Party can use this to interfere with Hong Kong’s affairs.

The NPC issued a binding interpretation before the courts have released a judgment. This exerts pressure on Hong Kong’s judiciary and undermines its power to final adjudication and interpretation guaranteed under article 19 of the Basic Law. This reduces Hong Kong’s scope of autonomy.


釋法的時間點

Timing of the NPC’s interpretation

本次釋法與過往四次釋法最大不同之處在於釋法的時間點。法院對梁振英提出的司法覆核仍未有判決時,人大已經主動提出就《基本法》第104條「釋法」。泛民普遍認為,人大在法庭有判決前以釋法介入爭議,是對本港法院施壓,扮演判官的角色。大律師公會主席譚允芝認為,於此時釋法會令公眾認為釋法的目的是令法官無機會按照香港法律審理案件,而被釋法所解釋的意義約束。但前律政司司長梁愛詩認為,於有判決前釋法會比法院有判決後,人大釋法推翻判決為好。

The most recent NPC interpretation is different from the previous ones in that this is the only one that is issued before the court has returned a judgment. Pan-democrats think that by issuing an interpretation at this time, the NPC is exerting pressure on Hong Kong’s courts and assuming the role of judges. ‎Ms Winnie Tam SC, chair of the HK Bar Association, says that issuing an interpretation now will create the impression that judges cannot rule according to Hong Kong’s domestic legislations. But former Secretary for Justice Elsie Leung said that issuing an interpretation before the court ruling is better than issuing one after the judgment and overruling it.


釋法的文本內容,對法院有否「約束力」?

Is the NPC’s interpretation binding on Hong Kong’s courts?

基本法委員會副秘書長李飛在記者上重申,釋法有憲制地位,香港法院必須依從。但法律匯思召集人任建峰指出,今次釋法內容可分為兩部分,第一部分提及宣誓要「莊嚴」,可理解為人大解釋104條內容,但第二部分提及的,宣誓只可以一次等具體操作,是加入104條原來沒有的規定。任建峰提到,基本法委員會委員,港大法律學系教授陳弘毅在十年多前的學術文章中提及,如人大常委會釋法或訂下的法律內容,在基本法框架之外,法院可以選擇不跟從。

Li Fei, Deputy Secretary General of the Basic Law Committee, said that the interpretation is constitutionally binding on Hong Kong’s courts. Yet Kevin Yam of the Progressive Lawyers Group said that the NPC’s interpretation is in effect adding new clauses to the Basic Law. This new addition is not binding on the courts as it is outside of the scope of the Basic Law provisions.


釋法對立法會有什麼影響?

What impact does this interpretation have on the Legislative Council?

人大常委就立法會宣誓風波釋法,表明以此遏制和打擊港獨。北京大學法學院教饒戈平指,游蕙禎及梁頌恆在宣誓過程中的言行,嚴重違反基本法第104條,應視為無效宣誓,極有可能會被禠奪議員資格。二人更可能要償還以立法會議員身分享有的待遇,包括10月份薪金以及已預支的議員津貼,二人合計涉逾185萬元。如果二人被褫奪資格,便需要舉行補選,而但現有法律沒有規定失去資格的人不能再次參選。

至於其他宣誓或有問題的議員,港大法律學院首席講師張達明指,若有人入稟,法庭又確定追溯過往行為,其議席有可能不保。張達明認為,自決派的劉小麗及香港眾志的羅冠聰都可能會因宣誓時不莊重,而失去議席,不過姚松炎只是加添內容,而非故意不莊重,失去議席的機會較低。饒戈平亦指劉小麗不是完整地宣誓,不算是一種莊重、認真的行為。而另一名議員黃定光,宣誓時需然漏說「香港」,但由於不是故意挑戰中央權威,估計應不會被取消資格。

It looks likely that lawmakers Leung Chung Hang and Yau Wai Ching are going to lose their LegCo seats following the NPC’s interpretation of Article 104 of the Basic Law. If this happens, they may have to return October’s salary and allowances that they have already claimed. If they are stripped of their LegCo member, a by-election will have to be held, but the current law does not prohibit disqualified LegCo members from re-running.

As for other members whose oaths are potentially problematic, HKU professor Eric Cheung said that if the court thinks the NPC’s interpretation operates retrospectively, they might be stripped of their seats. Cheung thinks that lawmakers Lau Siu Lai and Nathan Law who advocates self-determination are among those who might be disqualified because their actions might be deemed non-solemn.

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