Hong Kong Courts Rule Mask Ban as Unconstitutional

Amid recent protests in Hong Kong, a high court has ruled that a last-minute revival of laws banning face masks was unconstitutional by the government.

The Hong Kong high court has found the resuscitated ban on face masks was “incompatible with the Basic Law” of Hong Kong, a constitution that has been present since HK’s ownership returned to China in 1997.

“The restrictions it imposes on fundamental rights … go further than is reasonably necessary … and therefore fail to meet the proportionality test,” the court said, according to Al Jazeera.

The ban was originally reinstated in October after, for the first time in 50 years, the unelected pro-China party invoked colonial-era legislation (the Emergency Regulations Ordinance). Residents of Hong Kong are currently protesting against the Chinese rule and demanding democratic rights as well as several investigations into police brutality on the back of the protests. In particular, protestors want the government to allow free elections for the city of 7.5 million people.

The protests have so far involved thousands of Hong Kong residents, and local police forces have geared up heavy and resorted to throwing tear gas among other action. It’s no surprise protesters have been using face masks, helmets and goggles, both in a bid to hide their individual identities and in order to avoid the gas.

The ban makes it illegal to wear a mask at a sanctioned or unsanctioned rally, and if caught any of the protestors could face up to a year in prison. The High Court has now ruled the ban as unconstitutional but further action has not yet been taken.

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