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UN Special Rapporteur Backs Sebastien Lai’s Call to China to Immediately Release His Father

30 June 2023 – Today, Jimmy Lai’s son, Sebastien Lai, addressed the 53rd Session of the United Nations Human Rights Council with Special Rapporteur on the rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and of association, Clément Nyaletsossi Voule.

Sebastien Lai urged the Special Rapporteur to publicly support the release of his father, who has been behind bars on questionable charges for 912 days. He called on China and Hong Kong to drop all charges against his father and to stop criminalising peaceful pro-democracy activists.

Tatyana Eatwell, a member of Jimmy Lai and Sebastien Lai’s international legal team, also raised the case of Jimmy Lai during the session. She spoke to the rapid increase of the political prisoner population in Hong Kong and underscored how Jimmy Lai has been detained for peacefully attending a Tiananmen Square Massacre vigil and on sham fraud charges.

Mr Lai and Ms Eatwell were interrupted by China during their remarks. China claimed Mr Lai “exaggerated” his father’s case and accused Ms Eatwell of attacking “the political system in China contrary to the principles and purposes of the United Nation’s Charter”. The President blocked China’s attempt to silence the truth, and the Special Rapporteur supported Sebastien Lai and Ms Eatwell by urging China to release Jimmy Lai and other political prisoners who remain behind bars for fighting for freedom and democracy in Hong Kong.

The Committee for Freedom in Hong Kong Foundation welcomes the Special Rapporteur’s support and will continue to double down its efforts to place pressure on the Hong Kong government to release British citizen Jimmy Lai.

Sebastien Lai, son of Jimmy Lai, said:

“The China and Hong Kong SAR government tried to silence my dad by throwing him in jail. But that silence is deafening. Today I want the whole world to hear his story. There is a broader trend of the Hong Kong SAR government locking up people who criticise them. There are now over 1,400 political prisoners. At 75, my father is the oldest – and I fear I may never see him again. I call on Hong Kong to stop criminalising those who peacefully protest and advocate for democracy. And to drop all charges against my dad, before it is too late.”

Commenting on the Chinese government’s attempt to silence Sebastien Lai, Caoilfhionn Gallagher KC, head of Jimmy Lai and Sebastien Lai’s international legal team, said:

“China’s conduct at the Human Rights Council in Geneva today shows they will stop at nothing to silence criticism. They will even interrupt a son speaking out for his father. A lawyer speaking out for her client. NGOs speaking out about the erosion of democracy, freedom of expression and the rule of law in Hong Kong. This is a bully State, using every tool in its armoury to silence, to intimidate and to threaten. We thank the UN Special Rapporteur and the UN Human Rights Council for standing up to China today, and allowing Sebastien Lai’s and Tatyana Eatwell’s voices to be heard.”

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