Serious threat to freedom of opinion and expression in Hong Kong

09/12/2002
Press release

The Hong Kong Human Rights Monitor (HKHRM) and the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH) submitted today information to two UN human rights mechanisms about the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region government’s proposal to implement article 23 of the Basic Law.

The FIDH and the HKHRM consider that this proposal is a very serious threat to freedom of opinion and expression in Hong Kong, as well as to human rights defenders
For more detail, see the joint briefing note by the FIDH and the HKHRM on the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region government’s proposal to implement article 23 of the Basic Law

The Basic law - Hong Kong’s Constitution - requires the enactment of anti-subversion laws "on its own" under article 23. That article was added to the draft Basic Law on the insistence of the government of the People Republic of China in the aftermath of the Tiananmen Square crack down.

The government of Hong Kong issued a consultation paper on 24 September 2002, starting a consultation period which will end on December 24. The Bill should then be introduced in February, and enacted no later than in July 2003.

The Hong Kong government’s proposal intends to replace the current offence of treason by a new definition ; to establish the offence of secession from the People Republic of China ; to reactivate and redefine the offences of sedition and dealing with seditious publications ; to establish the offence of subversion ; to broaden the existing provisions on theft of State secrets ; to expand the provisions on "foreign" political organizations endangering state security ; and to extend police powers of entry, search and seizure of evidence without a warrant from the Court.

If this proposal becomes a law, the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region would violate international human rights law, and notably the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights as well as the UN declaration on Human Rights Defenders.

The FIDH and the HKHRM urge the authorities of Hong Kong to withdraw the proposal, taking into account the numerous and severe criticisms expressed by the civil society of Hong Kong as well as international human rights NGOs.

Contact :
Hong Kong Human Rights Monitor : Yuk Kai Law, director, tel : 00 852 2811-44 88
FIDH : Gaël Grilhot, press officer, tel : 00 33 1 43 55 25 18

See the joint briefing note by the FIDH and the HKHRM on the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region government’s proposal to implement article 23 of the Basic Law here

See also a FIDH report : "Hong Kong et les libertés : un processus d’érosion", mars 1998

See also HKHRM reports "A Ticking Time Bomb?: Article 23, Security Law, and Human Rights in Hong Kong", 17 August 2001 (http://www.hkhrm.org.hk/english/reports/docs/art23.rtf ) and "Hong Kong Human Rights Monitor’s Response to Government Consultation Document", 15 Nov 2002 (http://www.article23.org.hk/english/research/hkhrm.doc).

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