Frequently Asked Questions for Hong Kong Neutral Legal Observers Group
Why did the Hong Kong Neutral Legal Observers Group form?
In response to the demonstrations and protests that occurred in the summer of 2019, a group of concerned solicitors met and decided to form the Hong Kong Neutral Legal Observers Group (HKNLOG). Having observed the nature of the demonstrations and protests, including opposition to the protests and the police response, the founding members felt that there was a need for neutral observers to be present at public gatherings to help play a role in maintaining Hong Kong’s rule of law.
What does HKNLOG hope to achieve?
HKNLOG’s mission is to maintain and uphold the city’s rule of law. As stated in our mandate, we will:
- assist our colleagues in the legal profession in discharging their obligations to clients and in the administration of justice;
- conduct research into the full extent and exercise of the rights and obligations of Hong Kong residents under the law, and disseminating that information quickly, efficiently, and widely;
- educate and train Hong Kong residents as to their rights and obligations under the law and encourage everyone to exercise those rights lawfully, without violence; and
- attend public gatherings as independentobservers to provide information and/or record and collect evidence of unlawful behaviour in aid of proceedings.
Is HKNLOG funded/supported by any government or commercial organisations or individuals?
We do not receive money from any other organisations, local or overseas. We do not receive any funding from any government, organisation, company or firm. We are entirely self-funded by our members and individual lawyers. All our members are involved on an unpaid volunteer basis, and participate in their own personal capacities.
How does HKNLOG plan to stay neutral when there are many criticisms of the Hong Kong government, the police and the demonstrators?
As lawyers, we are trained to study facts and evidence dispassionately. HKNLOG observers will use those same skills and level of professionalism to stay neutral when doing their work. Our group as a whole does not align with any particular side or their objectives, but instead attend events as neutral observers to ensure that the rule of law is preserved and maintained in Hong Kong.
There are many other civil society groups out there, including for lawyers, what makes HKNLOG different from those other groups?
We have a narrowly defined mission and scope, and are not aligned to any particular political party. Our members are lawyers, who can use their special training and skills to analyse the situation and who join HKNLOG on the express condition that when they represent HKNLOG, they remain neutral in their role as an observer. We do not advocate for any particular political objective, but solely seek to support the maintenance of the rule of law in Hong Kong. It is this limited scope and our neutral position which distinguishes us from other groups.
Will you be representing protesters?
No, that is not the role of HKLNOG. We cannot and do not provide legal advice or representation to any person or institution, as HKNLOG is not licensed to do that.
What will HKNLOG be doing with the material you gather? Will you be giving the materials to protesters, their lawyers, police, the Mainland Authorities?
We will be producing public reports in the public interest.
Why has HKNLOG chosen green as its colour?
The colour green is associated with harmony and safety. As one of HKNLOG’s objectives is to uphold the rule of law, we believe green is an appropriate colour choice, particularly the association with safety as a society can only be harmonious where its citizens have confidence that their lives are governed by the rule of law.
What position does HKNLOG take on the “five demands”?
HKNLOG takes no view on the five demands as our objective is to act as neutral observers and our focus is to uphold Hong Kong’s rule of law.
Some of your members must have their own political views?
Like the rest of the community, our members have a wide variety of political views. But the organisation’s mission is one that is common to all lawyers, and we encourage legal professionals with a variety of views to join the organisation. We believe that the ability of individuals to engage respectfully and peacefully with people who hold contrary political views is a core requirement of a society governed by rule of law, and can aid in deeper understanding of each other. However, in acting for the HKNLOG, our members agree not to advocate for any particular political view in their observations or their other work for the organisation.
Has the Law Society / Bar Association approved of this or are they aware?
As a group of individuals, we act in our personal capacities. HKLNOG is not affiliated with any other organisation or body, including the Hong Kong Bar Association or The Law Society of Hong Kong.
Are any law students involved in HKNLOG?
No, all our ordinary members are practising lawyers with current practising certificates and are resident in Hong Kong residents.
Is HKNLOG connected to any overseas observer groups or any other group?
No. While we are aware that similar organisations exist around the world, HKNLOG is fully independent and has no connections or affiliations to such overseas groups.
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