Published: 19:24, August 7, 2023 | Updated: 09:53, August 8, 2023
DoJ appeals HK court's refusal to ban protest song
By Wang Zhan

In this Oct 27, 2022 photo, Hong Kong Secretary for Justice Paul Lam Ting-kwok meets with members of the media at Justice Place in Central. (CALVIN NG / CHINA DAILY)

HONG KONG – The Department of Justice appealed on Monday the High Court’s decision rejecting a government bid to get an injunction issued against acts related to a separatism-linked song.

The DoJ said in a statement that Secretary of Justice Paul Lam Ting-kwok has decided to appeal the Court of First Instance’s ruling on the song Glory to Hong Kong and that it has filed the application for leave to appeal to the court.

The DoJ's spokesman said that the court in its judgment had agreed that there can be little doubt that the song was used to incite secession, and the four classes of acts that the government application sought to prohibit “are plainly or likely to constitute criminal activities”

"The Secretary for Justice, acting as a guardian of public interest, applied for the interim injunction for the purpose of discharging the constitutional responsibility of the Government of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region to safeguard national security by effectively preventing, suppressing and imposing punishment on acts or activities endangering national security, and to preserve the dignity of the national anthem," a DOJ spokesman was quoted as saying in the statement.

The DoJ applied on June 5 for a court injunction to prohibit four illegal acts related to the song, such as disseminating it with intent to incite others to commit secession, or with the intent to insult the national anthem.

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On July 28, the court rejected the application, noting that such an injunction would have a limited effect and would conflict with relevant criminal laws.

The DoJ spokesman said that the court in its judgment had agreed that there can be little doubt that the song was used to incite secession, and the four classes of acts that the government sought to prohibit “are plainly or likely to constitute criminal activities”.

"The CFI made the decision to refuse granting an interim injunction not because the acts in questions are legal, but because the court considered that such acts already constitute criminal offenses even without the injunction, and therefore was not satisfied that the injunction would be of real utility,” the spokesman said.

He noted that the court was of the view that there is a real risk that the enforcement of the injunction would conflict with the prosecution procedure of cases concerning the offense of endangering national security under the National Security Law for Hong Kong.

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 "As a matter of fact, the court's judgment has pointed out that, had the court been satisfied that the injunction is of real utility and there exists no conflict with the NSL, the court would accept the interim injunction as satisfying the proportionality test, in that the restriction imposed on freedom of expression is no more than necessary to safeguard national security and would not result in an unacceptably harsh burden on the individual, and would have held in favor of granting the interim injunction," the spokesman said.

The Hong Kong Special Administrative Region government reiterated that it is a criminal offense to disseminate or perform the song with the intention of inciting others to commit secession or with seditious intention, or to disseminate or perform the song as the "national anthem of Hong Kong" with the intent to insult the national anthem.