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STATEMENT: CFHK Foundation Urges U.S. Sanctions on Hong Kong Officials Responsible for 'Beijing-style' Article 23 Legislation


March 9 2024 The Committee for Freedom in Hong Kong (CFHK) Foundation strongly opposes Hong Kong’s new domestic Safeguarding National Security Bill under Article 23 legislation and calls on the administration of the United States to hold the Hong Kong government accountable for its blatant attempt to destroy the city’s rule of law and freedoms. 


On Friday, March 8th, 2024, the Hong Kong government introduced its domestic national security law to the Legislative Council, followed by two readings of the bill. The Council will continue reading the bill with additional sessions scheduled to expedite the legislative process of the bill, which could be passed as early as next week. 


The Article 23 legislation criminalises five types of security crimes, including treason, insurrection, theft of state secrets and espionage, sabotage endangering national security, and external interference with punishments up to life imprisonment. 


The vaguely written and broad definition of the offences would allow the Hong Kong government to target any individual or entity for exercising their rights and freedoms with egregious sentences.


Once enacted, the bill would further extinguish civil liberties and information flow and devastate human rights in the city beyond the impact of the National Security Law imposed by Beijing in 2020.

A person who endangers national security is liable for 20 years in jail. A person who shows an intent of treason or fails to disclose knowledge of treason is liable for 14 years in jail. A person publishing seditious text is liable for seven years in jail. The Security Department can prohibit the operations of any organisation and revoke the passports of any Chinese nationals deemed a threat to national security. A person who endangers national security is liable for 20 years in jail. A person who shows an intent of treason or fails to disclose knowledge of treason is liable for 14 years in jail. A person publishing seditious text is liable for seven years in jail. The Security Department can prohibit the operations of any organization and revoke the passports of any Chinese nationals deemed a threat to national security. 


The bill also undermines due process by extending the detention period without charge from 48 hours to a maximum of 16 days if they are arrested under the security law. A warrant can be issued by the court to bar access to any legal assistance within the first 48 hours upon arrest or restrict areas of movement as a bail condition, much like the Beijing-style house arrests. The extraterritorial effect that applies to Chinese nationals could also be used to further intensify the transnational repression of overseas Hong Kongers. 


As the bill moves forward in an expedited manner, we call on the U.S. government to take the following concrete actions if the Article 23 legislation is passed:  

  • Impose sanctions on individuals who are responsible for undermining the rule of law in Hong Kong, and in particular, those who participated in the passage of the legislation, under its existing authority provided by the Hong Kong Human Rights and Democracy Act of 2019, the Hong Kong Autonomy Act of 2020, and the Global Magnitsky Act of 2020. The bipartisan Hong Kong Sanction Act introduced in both houses in November 2023 provides a list of 49 Hong Kong officials, judges, and prosecutors at all levels who are responsible for the ongoing political persecution of pro-democracy activists. Additionally, there is a current list of individuals that has been provided to the State Department by the House Select Committee on the Strategic Competition Between the U.S. and the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) and the Congressional-Executive Commission on China that should be considered including: 

  • Paul Lam Ting-kwok, Hong Kong Secretary for Justice

  • Raymond Siu Chak-yee, Hong Kong Commissioner of Police

  • Margaret Chiu Wing-lan, Assistant Commissioner of Police, National Security

  • Dick Wong Chung-chun, Assistant Commissioner of Police, National Security

  • Bruce Hung Ngan, Senior Superintendent of Police

  • Maggie Yang Mei-kei, Hong Kong Director of Public Prosecutions

  • Dong Jingwei, Director of the Office for Safeguarding National Security

  • Revoke the Hong Kong Economic and Trade Offices’ privileges and immunities in the U.S.

The Article 23 legislation is an affront to human rights and the rule of law and will be used as an enhanced tool to target the people of Hong Kong. Strong words of opposition from the U.S. and the international community are important, but not enough. There must be action to hold the Hong Kong government accountable for its human rights abuses. We hope the U.S. will show leadership at this pivotal time for Hong Kong. 

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