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AFP
November 28, 2020

HK prison wrong to cut ‘Long Hair’ locks: court

World

AFP
November 28, 2020

HONG KONG: Hong Kong prison staff were wrong to cut off the locks of veteran dissident "Long Hair", the city’s top court said Friday, in the second significant ruling against authorities this month.

The decision comes as pro-establishment voices call for an overhaul of the judiciary -- something opponents fear could muzzle the Hong Kong legal system’s vaunted independence as Beijing cracks down on critics.

The ruling by the Court of Final Appeal is the culmination of a long legal battle by Leung Kwok-hung, 64, who served a brief jail sentence in 2014 linked to his protesting.

Better known by the sobriquet "Long Hair", he is one of the city’s veteran dissidents, beginning his career campaigning against British colonial rule and later becoming a fierce critic of Beijing.

A panel of top judges unanimously ruled that Leung’s rights had been breached under sexual discrimination laws when his hair was cut in jail.

Hong Kong prison authorities insist all male inmates keep their hair cut short, but female convicts are allowed to keep theirs long if they wish.

"The fact that male prisoners are denied a choice as to their hair length, suggests that they are treated less favourably than female prisoners," the judges wrote, adding authorities had failed to explain why short hair was required for custodial discipline.

Unlike China’s party-controlled judiciary, the city maintains an independent common law system that forms the bedrock of its success as a global trade and finance hub.