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Former chief justice Beverley McLachlin to step down from controversial Hong Kong court

Former chief justice of the Supreme Court of Canada Beverley McLachlin has announced her retirement from the controversial Hong Kong Court of Final Appeal.

McLachlin, 80, joined the court in 2018. She said she'll be stepping down from the bench to spend more time with her family when her term ends on July 29, 2024.

«It has been a privilege serving the people of Hong Kong,» McLachlin said in a media statement. «I continue to have confidence in the members of the court, their independence and their determination to uphold the rule of law.»

The court was established in July 1997 to replace the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council in London as the highest appellate court in the former British colony, now a special administrative region of China.

The court can have up to 30 non-permanent judges at any one time. At present there are three non-permanent Hong Kong judges and 12 non-permanent common law judges, including McLachlin.

Since joining the court, McLachlin has faced numerous calls to step down over criticism of Hong Kong's controversial national security law, passed in 2020, and Article 23, passed earlier this year.

The 2020 national security law covered four areas of criminal activity: secession, subversion, terrorism and collusion with foreign or external forces. Those convicted of such crimes face maximum sentences of life imprisonment.

The law also allowed China to establish a national security agency in Hong Kong that is not under the jurisdiction of the Hong Kong government.

After it was passed, Australian judge James Spigelman resigned from the court for reasons he said were «related to the content of the national security legislation.»

'The court is completely independent': McLachlin

Article 23 expanded the

Read more on cbc.ca