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United Nations Hold Session About Jimmy Lai and Illegal Detentions in Hong Kong

15 March 2023 – Yesterday’s United Nations Human Rights Council’s (UNHRC) 52nd session raised Jimmy Lai’s false imprisonment and the Chinese Communist Party’s and Hong Kong authorities’ use and abuse of the National Security Law and counter-terrorism laws to criminalise Hong Kong’s free media.

Jimmy Lai’s international legal team submitted urgent appeals to the United Nations (UN) and the United Nations Working Group on Arbitrary Detention (UN Working Group) last year, and on 15 March they raised the unjust case of Mr Lai in interactive dialogue with the UN Special Rapporteur on counter-terrorism.

Jimmy Lai’s international lawyer, Caoilfhionn Gallagher KC, said, “The National Security Law (NSL) is breathtakingly broad: virtually anything could be deemed a threat to ‘national security’ under its provisions, and it can apply to anyone on the planet, even if they have never stepped foot in Hong Kong or China. Mr Lai has devoted decades to journalism, writing and supporting democratic values. He now faces life in prison under the NSL for his writings and for Apple Daily’s writings about the protection of democracy.”

Jimmy Lai’s son, Sebastien Lai, defended his father, commenting on the meeting, “[My father] chose to stand up for his principles and for freedom of expression and association in Hong Kong. [For that], he now faces trial on trumped up charges of sedition and endangering national security for his journalism, a trial that could condemn him to spend the rest of his life in prison.”

Jimmy Lai’s case was also raised by the International Federation of Journalists’ Jennifer Robinson, PEN International’s Ross Holder, and Article 19’s Anna Oosterlinck. Yesterday’s meeting follows British Foreign Secretary James Cleverly’s opening remarks at the UNHRC session that mentioned the case of Mr Lai and urged the CCP and Hong Kong authorities to honour the Sino-British Joint Declaration.

Jimmy Lai has been in jail since 31 December 2020. He has been in prison for 805 days. He is still awaiting his National Security Law trial, now due to begin in September.

The Committee for Freedom in Hong Kong (CFHK) Foundation’s President, Mark Clifford, said:

“Jimmy Lai is a symbol of freedom for many Hong Kongers. As the Hong Kong authorities continue to crush Hong Kong’s freedom of expression and establish an increasingly strict regime, opportunity remains for the United Nations and leaders of free societies to call attention to the Hong Kong authorities’ arbitrary use of the National Security Law against British citizen Jimmy Lai and other pro-democracy activists who are simply exercising their rights to free speech, free press, and free assembly under international law.”

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