Appeal court reinstates ban on HK government making electoral registers public

16-Apr-2020 Intellasia | South China Morning Post | 6:02 AM Print This Post

An appeal court has reinstated a temporary ban on election authorities in Hong Kong from publicly disclosing voters’ details, delaying the government’s plan to reopen voter registries for public viewing on Wednesday.

The Court of Appeal decision followed an appeal lodged on Tuesday by the city’s largest police group, the Junior Police Officers’ Association (JPOA), who sought to overturn a lower court’s ruling against barring the publication and public inspection of the registries.

The association also applied to renew a short-term ban on the disclosure of voters’ personal details until the resolution of the appeal proceedings. The ban previously took effect last October until April 8, when the Court of First Instance turned down the JPOA’s judicial review application.

Justices of Appeal, Johnson Lam Man-hon and Aarif Barma, granted the association’s request and reintroduced the ban until next Monday, when the court will determine whether to extend the ban until the substantive appeal is heard on May 5.

The Registration and Electoral Office, having announced earlier it would reopen the registries for public inspection at two of its offices from Wednesday, said it would suspend the arrangements until further notice.

Hong Kong Journalists Association, which joined the legal proceedings as a third party, said it would ponder its legal options.

“We express serious concern and will pay close attention to the development,” it said in a statement.

Last year, the JPOA said it made the present judicial review application to counter doxxing threats against police officers ahead of the district council polls on November 24.

It said doxxing had affected officers’ work and caused psychological stress to their families amid ongoing anti-government protests, during which the force was frequently targeted by protesters.

The association feared the registers, which list the names and addresses of voters, would help doxxers in the malicious publication of personal information of its 25,000 members on the internet and across social media platforms.

However, the Court of First Instance found no proof for the assertion that some officers had suffered because their names and home addresses had been made public in the registries, or that they had been deterred from registering as a voter for fear of doxxing.

In a 65-page ruling handed down last week, Justice Anderson Chow Ka-ming said the publication of the registries was both lawful and constitutionally compliant, adding any unauthorised use or disclosure of information obtained from a register was prohibited by existing electoral laws.


Category: Hong Kong

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