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Canadian Senate calls for the immediate release of Jimmy Lai

Updated: Jan 30

19 December 2023 - On Friday 15 December, a few days before the start of the Jimmy Lai National Security trial in Hong Kong, the Senate of Canada unanimously passed a motion calling for the release of the 76-year-old pro-democracy campaigner and former owner of the Apple Daily newspaper. The senate motion was preceded by the Canadian House of Commons, which passed a identical motion also unanimously.

Senator Pierre Dalphond, (Progressive Senate Group) who introduced the motion, described Mr Lai as “a hero for democracy in Hong Kong" and a “peaceful man who dared to publish the truth”. 


Senator Dalphond introduced the motion on behalf of colleagues from all parties in the Senate including Senator Housakos, Senator Omidvar, Senator Miville-Dechêne and Senator Patterson. 


Yesterday in the British Parliament, a short debate took place in which Members of Parliament from all parties condemned the trial and persecution of Jimmy Lai and called for his immediate and unconditional release. Foreign Minister for the Indo-Pacific 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 National Security Law is abhorrent". 


Prior to the trial, the British Foreign Secretary, Lord David Cameron said: “I urge the Chinese authorities to repeal the National Security Law and end the prosecution of all individuals charged under it. I call on the Hong Kong authorities to end their prosecution and release Jimmy Lai.”   


The Congressional Executive Commission on China in the US Congress, led by Congressman Chris Smith and Senator Jeff Merkley said: “We will continue to demand the unconditional release of Jimmy Lai and all of Hong Kong’s political prisoners and seek ways to raise the diplomatic and reputational costs globally for the Hong Kong and PRC government’s rough dismantling of democratic freedom and the rule of law in Hong Kong.” 


Several other prominent states and bodies, including the US Congress, the European Parliament, the Canadian Parliament, and the UN Special Rapporteur on Peaceful Assembly have called for Mr Lai’s release. Mr Lai’s detainment has also been criticised by multiple non-governmental organisations including Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, and Freedom House.   


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

“The reaction of Parliamentarians and governments around the world show clearly that everyone knows what is happening to Jimmy Lai is wrong, and that he is facing a show trial. Hong Kong can no longer be regarded as a city that functions freely and with the rule of law. As Jimmy Lai’s National Security Law trial begins, he will know that the Canadian Parliament and the British Parliament are with him, and that people around the world are standing up for him against the Hong Kong authorities and the CCP.” 

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