The Rule of Law in Hong Kong Fifteen Years After the Handover

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The summer of 2012 marked the fifteenth anniversary of the handover of sovereignty over Hong Kong from the United Kingdom to the People’s Republic of China. Under the “one country, two systems” principle established in the handover agreements, Hong Kong was permitted to retain a “high degree of autonomy” and the existing judicial system was to be maintained. For more than two decades, both before and after the handover, Justice Kemal Bokhary sat on Hong Kong’s highest court–the Court of Final Appeal. In this Essay, originally offered as remarks at the University of Zurich, Justice Bokhary reviews Hong Kong’s judicial independence over the past fifteen years, describes the challenges it currently faces and provides his assessment of its future.