Article 16 of the Bill of Rights protects the freedom of opinion and expression of everyone. Also according to the Article 27 of the Basic Law, “Hong Kong residents shall have freedom of speech, of the press and of publication; freedom of association, of assembly, of procession and of demonstration; and the right and freedom to form and join trade unions, and to strike.” This means that the freedom of Hong Kong residents in doing the above acts should not be restricted. So, if a particular law offenses the freedom given by the Article 27 of the Basic Law, it contravenes with the Basic Law. Though the freedom of expression of everyone is protected by the above laws, Article 16 pf the Bill of Rights stated that the exercise of the rights provided by this article carries with its special duties and responsibilities. This means that even when someone enjoys the freedom of expression, he or she still needs to follow certain rules. If someone breaks the rules, he or she no longer enjoys the freedom of expression. The special duties and responsibilities that is need to bear is: i) To respect the rights or reputations of others. For example, if someone (named Mr. A) made some speech to slander someone else (named Mr. B), Mr. A is no longer protected by the freedom of expression. So if a law prohibits people from using any acts to defame or hurt the other’s right, the law is not violating the freedom of expression of people. For example, if there is a law that punishes people for slandering others, the law doesn’t violate the freedom of expression. Though it makes people cannot talk freely, it gives no restriction to people’s freedom of expression as it only punishes people who defames others’ reputation. So there is no contradiction between the law and the freedom of speech. This is because the person who is defaming the other is no longer protected by the freedom of expression, the punishment and law is then valid. ii) To protect the national security or the public order, or the public health or morals. For example, if someone’s speech caused chaos in the society or harmed the national security, that person is longer protected by the freedom of speech. So if a law punishes someone that spreads speeches that will cause social disorder, the law does not violate the freedom of expression. This is because people enjoying the freedom of expression must follow the rule, that it is the act does not violate the protection of national security, the public order, the public health or morals. So the law does not have any contradiction with the freedom of expression, but just a punishment to people that harms the society by using irresponsible expression act. For example, at the April Fool’s Day in 2003, a 14-year old teenager spread fake news that HK is in an emergency state due to SARS. Anyone that leaves their living place may receive a punishment of 10 years imprisonment and a fine of $500,000. The teenager is then arrested and prosecuted by the government. This teenager’s act is not protected by the freedom of expression, so the prosecution and the law sued on him is valid and is not contradicting the freedom of expression. But if there is a particular law restricts people to express themselves, and the act follows the rules and responsibility stated above, the court then may decide that the particular law is against the freedom of expression as provided by the Basic Law. To be clearer, let us say that a particular law restricts people from doing a certain act. The act shows no intention to defame or restrain the rights of others. Also, the act does not disrupt the national security or the public order, or the public health or morals. The court then may decide that the particular law is against the freedom of expression, as the person is supposed to have the right to do the act due to freedom of expression. As a result, if a particular law does not allow someone to do something that is supposed to be...
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