Hong Kong: Sentencing and ongoing arbitrary detention of Messrs. Joshua Wong and Ivan Lam and Ms. Agnes Chow Ting

02/12/2020
Urgent Appeal

New informmation
HKG 001 / 1120 / OBS 132.1
Sentencing /
Arbitrary detention /
Judicial harassment
Hong Kong
December 2, 2020

The Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders, a partnership of FIDH and the World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT), has received new information and requests your urgent intervention in the following situation in Hong Kong.

New information:

The Observatory has been informed by reliable sources about the sentencing and ongoing arbitrary detention and judicial harassment of Messrs. Joshua Wong and Ivan Lam, and Ms. Agnes Chow Ting, three pro-democracy activists, in connection with their participation in a demonstration in June 2019, during the wave of protests against the proposed draft extradition law in the Special Administrative Region.

According to the information received, on December 2, 2020, the West Kowloon Magistrates’ Court found Messrs. Joshua Wong and Ivan Lam and Ms. Agnes Chow Ting guilty of “organising and taking part in an unauthorised assembly” near the police’s headquarters at the start of the pro-democracy protests in June 2019, and of “inciting others to take part (see background information). Mr. Joshua Wong was sentenced to 13,5 months in prison, while Ms. Agnes Chow Ting and Mr. Ivan Lam were sentenced to 10 and 7 months in jail respectively. The three defenders were imprisoned immediately after the verdict. An application from Ms. Agnes Chow Ting for bail pending an appeal was reject by the Court.

The Observatory recalls that this is not the first time that Mr. Joshua Wong and Ms. Agnes Chow Ting have been targeted because of their legitimate exercise of their right to freedom of peaceful assembly. Mr. Joshua Wong is currently subject to several legal proceedings. Both Mr. Joshua Wong and Ms. Agnes Chow Ting were arrested various times in the past 18 months.[1]

The Observatory condemns the sentencing and continuing judicial harassment and arbitrary detention of Messrs. Joshua Wong, Ivan Lam and Ms. Agnes Chow Ting, which seem to be only aimed at punishing them for the exercise of their right to freedom of peaceful assembly.

The Observatory calls on the authorities of Hong Kong to immediately and unconditionally release them, and to put an end to any acts of harassment, including at the judicial level, against them and all other pro-democracy activists and human rights defenders in Hong Kong.

Background information:

On November 23, 2020, Messrs. Joshua Wong, Ivan Lam and Ms. Agnes Chow Ting were summoned to appear before the West Kowloon Magistrates’ Court regarding their alleged participation in a demonstration in front of Hong Kong Police Headquarters on June 21, 2019, to demand retraction of the official characterisation of the protests as "riots". Mr. Joshua Wong pleaded guilty to the charge of "inciting and organising an illegal gathering” but pleaded not guilty to the charge of “knowingly participating in an illegal rally”. Mr. Ivan Lam pleaded guilty to "incitement", while Ms. Agnes Chow Ting pleaded guilty to "inciting and participating in the demonstration". These offences are punishable with up to five years’ imprisonment.

The three human rights defenders were denied bail pending the verdict, held in pre-trial custody after the hearing and detained at Lai Chi Kok Reception Centre until the verdict on December 2, 2020.

Mr. Joshua Wong was placed in solitary confinement for three days, as prison authorities feared he had ingested a “foreign object” prior to his detention. In his cell, the lights were left on 24 hours a day, causing him difficulties to sleep. Moreover, he was subjected to regular medical checks, although no foreign object was found in his body.

Actions requested:

Please write to the authorities of Hong Kong asking them to:

i. Immediately and unconditionally release Messrs. Joshua Wong and Ivan Lam and Ms. Agnes Chow Ting;

ii. Guarantee in all circumstances the physical integrity and psychological well-being of Messrs. Joshua Wong and Ivan Lam and Ms. Agnes Chow Ting;

iii. Put an end to all acts of harassment, including at the judicial level, against Messrs. Joshua Wong and Ivan Lam, Ms. Agnes Chow Ting, and all other human rights defenders in Hong Kong, and ensure they are able to carry out their activities without hindrance and fear for reprisals;

iv. Respect, protect, and fulfill Hong Kong’s obligations in accordance with Article 21 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) on the right to freedom of peaceful assembly;

v. Conform to all the provisions of the United Nations Declaration on Human Rights Defenders adopted by the UN General Assembly on December 9, 1998, in particular its Articles 1, and 12;

vi. Ensure in all circumstances respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms in accordance with international human rights standards and international instruments applicable to Hong Kong.

Addresses:

• Ms. Carrie Lam, Chief Executive of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region, Email: ceo@ceo.gov.hk, Phone: +852 2878 3300, Fax: +852 2509 0580;
• Ms. Teresa Cheng Yeuk-wah, Secretary for Justice, Email: dojinfo@doj.gov.hk , Phone: +852 2867 2198, Fax: +852 3918 4249;
• Mr. Matthew Cheung Kin-chung, Chief Secretary for Administration, Email: cso@cso.gov.hk, Fax: +852 2882 0099;
• Mr. Patrick Nip Tak-kuen, Secretary for Constitutional and Mainland Affairs, Email: cmabenq@cmab.gov.hk , Fax: +852 2810 2059;

Please also write to the diplomatic representations of Hong Kong in your respective countries.

***

Paris-Geneva, December 2, 2020

Kindly inform us of any action undertaken quoting the code of this appeal in your reply.

The Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders (the Observatory) was created in 1997 by FIDH and the World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT). The objective of this programme is to prevent or remedy situations of repression against human rights defenders. FIDH and OMCT are both members of ProtectDefenders.eu, the European Union Human Rights Defenders Mechanism implemented by international civil society.
 
To contact the Observatory, call the emergency line:
• E-mail: Appeals@fidh-omct.org
• Tel FIDH +33 (0) 1 43 55 25 18
• Tel OMCT +41 (0) 22 809 49 39


[1] See the Observatory Press Release “Hong Kong: Immediately release for pro-democracy activists”, published on August 30, 2020, and available here: https://www.fidh.org/en/issues/human-rights-defenders/hong-kong-immediately-release-four-pro-democracy-activists

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