The United Nations Human Rights Committee has issued a warning about the deteriorating human rights situation in Hong Kong and urged the Hong Kong government to abolish the NSL, and released all the dissidents who participated in the demonstration in 2019.
The Hong Kong government is a signatory to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR).
According to the convention, the United Nations usually reviews Hong Kong every four years and submits conclusion reports and opinions.
This is the first report about human rights in Hong Kong after the enactment of NSL on June 30, 2020.
The Committee expressed deep concern about the overly broad interpretation of the NSL, which was passed by China without consultation with the Hong Kong public.
Since its enactment in 2020, the NSL has reportedly led to the arrests of over 200 people, including 12 children.
The Committee underscored the shortcoming of the NSL, including the lack of clarity of “national security” and the possibility of transferring cases from Hong Hong to mainland China, which is not a State party to the Covenant, for investigation, persecution, trial, and execution of penalties.
The Committee urged Hong Kong to take action to repeal the NSL and, in the meantime, refrain from applying it.
The excessive power of the Chief Executive and other measures provided for in the NSL, can effectively undermine the independence of the judiciary and procedural safeguards for access to justice and the right to a fair trial.
A Setback for Hong Kong Government
“The report is quite different from the past, the wording is very tough and straightforward,” said Eric Lai, a scholar from the Center for Asian Law of Georgetown University Law School.
Eric said the Committee also unprecedentedly mentioned the concern of harassment, intimidation, and physical attacks faced by lawyers such as Chow Hang-tung, who have requested judicial reviews or represented opposition figures or protestors.
“It is very powerful and unusual that the Committee urged to abolish the NSL,” Peter Dahlin, who is the co-founder of the international human rights organization-Safeguard Defenders, told Radio Free Asian.
“This report is undoubtedly a setback for the Hong Kong government.”
Hong Kong Government is Disappointed
On the evening of July 27, the Hong Kong government responded saying the Committee had made “unfounded criticism” against Hong Kong, which was very disappointing.
It said the people living in Hong Kong are happy to see the city now continues to be an open, safe, vibrant, and business-friendly metropolis.”
Alex Chow Wing-hong, former secretary-general of the Hong Kong Federation of Students and current chairman of the Hong Kong Democratic Council (HKDC), told Radio Free Asia that the Hong Kong government’s response was “absurd and ridiculous” and undermined the core values recognized by the world.
“The Hong Kong government is becoming more and more like the Chinese Communist Party,” said Alex.