Harassment of judges unacceptable

The Government today said it will not tolerate any act of harassment against judges while they are performing their judicial duties.   In a statement, the Department of Justice said if there is any attempt to exert influence over court proceedings through despicable means, the Government will spare no effort in bringing the culprit to justice in order to safeguard the due administration of the judicial process and public peace.   Responding to the persistent harassment against a judge while handling court cases, the department noted that Article 85 of the Basic Law stipulates that the courts of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region shall exercise judicial power independently, free from any interference.    It said harassment acts may constitute criminal offences, noting that under the Crimes Ordinance, anyone who threatens any other person with injury to him or her shall be guilty of an offence.   The Summary Offences Ordinance points out that any person persistently making telephone calls without reasonable cause and for the purpose of causing annoyance, inconvenience or needless anxiety to any other person commits a crime.   Such acts may also be seen as perverting the course of justice. If an act creates a real risk of prejudice to court proceedings in that the public confidence in the due administration of justice is undermined, it may amount to contempt of court.   These are serious offences that may attract a maximum sentence up to seven years’ imprisonment, the department said.   In addition, any acts of harassment, personal attacks, insults and even threats against judges would severely undermine the authority of the courts and damage public confidence in the judicial system.   The department said it is disgraceful to disrupt social order maliciously with an attempt to interfere with court proceedings. Offenders not only act in blatant defiance of the law and undermine the rule of law, but also break the law and must bear severe legal consequences, it added.
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