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British Parliament Holds Urgent Debate on Jimmy Lai

Updated: Jan 30

18 December 2023 - Today, in the British Parliament, Sir Iain Duncan Smith MP asked an Urgent Question about the National Security Law (NSL) trial of British citizen Jimmy Lai which began in Hong Kong on Monday morning, amid a heavy police presence.  




 

Sir Duncan Smith MP began the short debate by asking Anne-Marie Trevelyan MP, a Foreign Minister, what steps the British Government are taking to support Jimmy Lai during his trial and if they will call for his immediate and unconditional release. He also demanded that sanctions be imposed on Hong Kong Chief Executive John Lee.

 

In a major step forward in the campaign to free Jimmy Lai, the Anne-Marie Trevelyan MP declared in Parliament that “Jimmy Lai is indeed a British citizen”. She added that the Government "are unequivocally clear that Jimmy is released immediately and the NSL is abhorrent" although she said it was not FCDO policy to comment on any potential future sanction.


Politicians from both sides of the House asked questions about what action the British government could take in response to the Hong Kong government’s repression of freedom of expression, free media and free assembly and demanded that the British government press further for Jimmy Lai’s release.

 

Catherine West MP, Shadow Foreign Minister said: “The ongoing detention of Jimmy Lai, a British citizen, is a stark symbol of the decline of Hong Kong's freedoms and China's flagrant disregard for the legally binding Sino-British agreement which promised a high degree of autonomy for Hong Kongers for 50 years. His trial is a further chapter in the erosion of the liberties promised then to the people of Hong Kong… Labour's position [is] unequivocally clear that Jimmy must be released immediately and the national security law he is being charged under is abhorrent.”


Other notable interventions came from Tim Loughton MP, who referred to Lai’s “pantomime trial” as “just the tip of the iceberg” of the CCP’s human rights abuses and asked the government to ensure there were “consequences” for Beijing’s actions. Fiona Bruce MP, the Prime Minister’s Special Envoy for Religious Freedom or Belief asked the minister if she shared her fears regarding threats to freedom of religion in Hong Kong, and Alistair Carmichael MP, Chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Hong Kong expressed dismay at the Hong Kong authorities refusal to grant Lai a counsel of his choosing, British barrister Timothy Owen KC. 

 

Mark Sabah, Director of the Committee for Freedom in Hong Kong Foundation said:  

“I am delighted that Sir Iain Duncan Smith tabled this Urgent Question in Parliament today. It is absolutely vital that the trial of British citizen Jimmy Lai, the crackdown on freedom in Hong Kong, and transnational repression in the UK are tackled by the British Government. We need actions more than words. I applause every MP that participated and thank them for standing up for the people of Hong Kong.”

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