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Submission to the Hong Kong Security Bureau for the Public Consultation of the Basic Law Article 23 Legislation

Frances Hui Wing Ting's Submission
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Chloe Cheung Hei Ching's Submission
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In the past three and a half years, the implementation of the National Security Law in Hong Kong (HKNSL) on June 30, 2020, has crushed the rights and freedoms of Hong Kong people; dismantled the foundation of the rule of law; and obliterated the principle of "one country, two systems” guaranteed in the Basic Law. Since its implementation, the United Nations human rights experts have raised concerns over the law in multiple settings for its lack of clarity, the use of mass trials, and the violation of civil rights, and have been calling for the law to be repealed.

Despite the urge for the repeal of the HKNSL to restore human rights and freedoms in Hong Kong in compliance with its international human rights obligations, the HKSAR continues to use the law to intimidate residents in Hong Kong and imprison dissidents, including former elected legislators, activists, social workers, academics, trade unionists, journalists, and ordinary citizens who support freedom, arresting 286 individuals and putting people through long detention before conviction. The HKNSL, claimed by the government to restore peace and order to the city, has crushed the city’s freedom and human rights, causing a phenomenon of self-censorship and major exodus of residents and businesses. A once vibrant and free city now contains zero forms of dissent, protest, or demonstration under the draconian law.

Last month, the Hong Kong government announced a one-month public consultation on Article 23 legislation with a 110-page public consultation document. Although the HKSAR welcomes public views during this period, it is questionable whether the government will truly listen to the people and civil society with its tracked history of dismissing and even criminalizing dissents — a stark distinction from two decades ago when half a million Hong Kong people took to the street to successfully protest against the possible introduction of Article 23.

The Committee for Freedom in Hong Kong Foundation, along with 15+ international advocates, condemns and strongly opposes the legislation of Article 23, and express grave concerns about the legislation proposed by the Hong Kong Government:

  • The Article will further infringe upon Hong Kong's autonomy, undermining the "One Country, Two Systems" principle.

  • The Article’s Definitions of national security, state secrets and offense definitions are overly broad, posing risks to press freedom, speech, and academic and religious liberties.

  • Provisions targeting external interference may deter international engagement and harm Hong Kong's status as a global financial hub.

  • Concerns over the legislation's compatibility with international human rights norms and Hong Kong's Basic Law, potentially inviting constitutional challenges.

Our recommendations included:

  • Urging the government to cease the enactment of Article 23 legislation.

  • Demanding the immediate release of the more than 1000 political prisoners unfairly detained under the National Security Law, including activists, journalists and scholars.

  • Advocating for the repeal of the draconian National Security Law, which has led to the erosion of civil liberties and freedom of expression in Hong Kong.

To read more, download the PDF above.

Frances Hui is the Policy and Advocacy Coordinator at the Committee for Freedom in Hong Kong Foundation. Chloe Cheung is the Communications and Media Assistant at the Committee for Freedom in Hong Kong Foundation.

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