Hong Kong — UN Experts Condemn National Security Law

  • "The National Security Act constitutes a serious risk that these fundamental freedoms may be violated."
  • "China’s counter-terrorism efforts must be necessary and in proportion to the actual threat of terrorism, it faces," the UN experts said.
  • The law has been condemned by the United States, the UK, and other Western forces.

United Nations human rights experts jointly sent a letter to the Chinese government stating that the Hong Kong National Security Law “infringes certain fundamental rights,” and expressed concern that the law may be used to prosecute political dissidents in Hong Kong.

Fionnuala Ní Aoláin is an Irish academic lawyer specialising in human rights law. In 2017, Ní Aoláin became the Special Rapporteur for Counter Terrorism and Human Rights.

The UN Special Rapporteur on Counter-Terrorism and Human Rights Protection, Fionnuala Ni Aolain, and six other UN experts jointly sent a letter on Friday stating that the “National Security Law” has damaged the independence of Hong Kong judges and lawyers, as well as basic rights, such as freedom of speech.

Ní Aoláin warned that the “Hong Kong National Security Law” poses a serious threat to Hong Kong’s freedom and violates international legal obligations.

She said “The National Security Act constitutes a serious risk that these fundamental freedoms may be violated.”

The UN experts first sent the 14-page letter to the Chinese government this time, and then published it on the website of the UN Human Rights Office. The letter analyzed the law in detail and pointed out the doubts that the experts felt. It said:

“In particular, we express concern at the broad scope of the crimes defined as secession and subversion; the express curtailment of freedoms of expression, peaceful assembly, and association; the implications of the scope and substance of the security law as a whole on the rule of law; and the interference with the ability of civil society organizations to perform their lawful function.”

“We underscore that security and human rights are intertwined and not separate,” it continued.

The experts stated in the letter that the measures of this law do not comply with China’s legal obligations under international law, and expressed concern that the laws “lack of precision in key aspects and violated certain basic rights.”

They said “laws should not be used to restrict protected fundamental freedoms, including freedom of speech and the right to peaceful assembly.” They also expressed concern that many legal activities of Hong Kong human rights defenders have been redefined as illegal.

Experts urge China to explain how it will implement the “extraterritorial jurisdiction” in the new law to ensure that it complies with the “United Nations International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights” signed by Beijing. They also believe that China should appoint a “completely independent examiner” to examine whether the law complies with its international human rights obligations.

Pro-China supporters display Chinese and Hong Kong flags as they raise a toast with champagne during a rally near the government headquarters in Hong Kong on June 30.

“China’s counter-terrorism efforts must be necessary and in proportion to the actual threat of terrorism, it faces,” the UN experts said.

“The use of the National Security Law’s terrorism measures should be strictly limited to address conduct which is genuinely terrorist in nature and should not be used to restrict or limit protected fundamental freedoms, including the rights to opinion, expression, and of peaceful assembly.”

The legislation allows for anything the Chinese government considers subversion, rebellion, insurgency, or collaboration with a foreign power to be punishable with up to life in prison. The law has been condemned by the United States, the UK, and other Western forces, which have revoked the bilateral deals and opened new immigration lines for the citizens of Hong Kong.

Human rights organizations have also opposed the statute being used to prosecute individuals, including business tycoon Jimmy Lai, suspected of “cooperating with international powers.”

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Benedict Kasigara

I have been working as a freelance editor/writer since 2006. My specialist subject is film and television having worked for over 10 years from 2005 during which time I was the editor of the BFI Film and Television.

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