Updated: Jul 31
23 March 2023 – Last week at the the United Nations Human Rights Council’s (UNHRC) 52nd session, Jimmy Lai’s international legal team raised the ongoing abuse of the National Security Law by the Hong Kong authorities, and exposed how it is being used to target and unjustly keep Jimmy Lai in detention.
Shortly after their appearance at the UNHRC, the Hong Kong government issued a long rebuttal stating that Hong Kong’s judicial system “has always been highly regarded by international communities". The Hong Kong authorities blasted Sebastien Lai and the international lawyers representing Jimmy Lai for their “blatant act of undermining the rule of law of Hong Kong”. The Hong Kong government declared they “will never tolerate, and strongly deplores, any form of interference by anyone including the so-called ‘international legal team’ with judicial proceedings of the HKSAR”.
The Hong Kong government’s accusation was released on the same day as CIVICUS Monitor’s global report on civic freedoms that downgraded Hong Kong from a ‘repressed’ to a ‘closed’ society. One day after the UNHRC meeting, British member of Parliament Jim Shannon led a Parliamentary debate that called out the British government’s lack of action in demanding the release of British citizen Jimmy Lai. Jim Shannon MP said, “The Law has been used to crush media freedom, including closing Apple Daily, the most popular newspaper in Hong Kong. [Apple Daily] former owner Jimmy Lai, and his NSL trial has been delayed by Hong Kong authorities. The UK must do more for Jimmy Lai.”
The Hong Kong authorities' attack on Jimmy Lai’s international legal team did not prevent them from testifying at the All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on Hong Kong's inquiry on Jimmy Lai, Apple Daily, and the dismantling of media freedoms in Hong Kong. Yesterday, in her evidence session, Caoilfhionn Gallagher said, “China’s leaders know that once they cow you, they can always cow you. Once they have you in their pocket, they can always squeeze you. Jimmy Lai would not cow to them, so he was targeted.”
Like Jimmy Lai, his international lawyers and Sebastien Lai refuse to give in to the Chinese Communist Party and Hong Kong authorities. Unlike the accusation from the Hong Kong authorities, Mr Lai’s international legal team and son are not abusing the United Nations but seeking all possible mechanisms to secure the immediate release of Jimmy Lai under international human rights law.
The Committee for Freedom in Hong Kong (CFHK) Foundation’s President, Mark Clifford, said:
“The Hong Kong government’s consistent bullying is all part of dictator Xi Jinping’s playbook. Jimmy Lai’s international legal team and his son are not “interfering” by utilising the very body that was created to hold human rights abusers accountable on the international stage. The Hong Kong authorities continue to withhold Jimmy Lai from his legal rights under international law. Although the Hong Kong authorities are concerned they have been betrayed, it is they who have betrayed their own people.”