Secretary for Administration and Justice Sonia Chan Hoi Fan said Thursday that cases involving national security should only be tried by local judges holding Chinese nationality, as suggested by the government in its proposed amendments to the Judicial Organisation Framework Law.
Chan made the remarks while speaking to reporters on the sidelines of a regular meeting of the Northern Districts Community Service Consultative Council, at the Government Service Centre in Areia Preta district.
According to recent news reports, the government’s proposed amendments to the Judicial Organisation Framework Law state that only judges holding Chinese nationality can conduct trials concerning national security.
The Judicial Organisation Framework Law took effect on the establishment day of the Macau Special Administrative Region (MSAR) on December 20, 1999.
According to the news reports, some Portuguese members of Macau’s legal fraternity have expressed concern that the government’s proposal might violate the Macau Basic Law.
Article 87 of the Macau Basic Law states that “judges of the courts of the Macau Special Administrative Region at all levels shall be appointed by the Chief Executive on the recommendation of an independent commission composed of local judges, lawyers and eminent persons. Judges shall be chosen on the basis of their professional qualifications. Qualified judges of foreign nationality may also be employed.”
While some of Macau’s judges and public prosecutors are Portuguese nationals, most are local Chinese nationals.
According to The Macau Post Daily, Chan pointed out that the government plans to propose in its amendments to the Judicial Organisation Framework Law that only judges holding Chinese nationality can handle criminal cases involving threats to national security, as such cases might involve confidential information about the nation and national defence.
Chan stressed that the local government does not intend to question the professional qualifications of local judges holding foreign nationality.
Chan also said that the government’s proposed amendments to the Judicial Organisation Framework Law aim to make the judiciary’s operations smoother and speed up trial proceedings.