UN specialists decry Hong Kong safety regulation in ‘open letter’ to China

Geneva, September 4

UN human rights specialists have advised China a brand new safety regulation for Hong Kong “infringes on certain fundamental rights” and voiced considerations that it could possibly be used to prosecute political activists within the former British colony.

In a uncommon joint letter made public on Friday, 48 hours after it was despatched to the Chinese authorities, additionally they stated provisions of the brand new regulation seem to undermine the independence of Hong Kong’s judges and attorneys, and the appropriate to freedom of expression.

“This is the first comprehensive UN assessment of the law,” Fionnuala Ni Aolain, UN particular rapporteur on defending human rights whereas countering terrorism, advised Reuters.

“It’s the first assessment and legal analysis of whether or not China is in compliance with international human rights obligations. And it’s not, in (our) view,” she stated.

Chinese authorities have acknowledged receipt of the letter, she added.

The “open letter” examined the nationwide safety regulation imposed in Hong Kong on June 30, which had already drawn UN criticism earlier than its adoption.

The regulation permits for something China views as subversive or secessionist or as terrorism or collusion with international forces to be punished with as much as life in jail. Authorities in Beijing and the monetary centre have stated the regulation is important to make sure Hong Kong’s stability and prosperity.

Critics say the laws additional erodes the wide-ranging freedoms promised to Hong Kong on its return to Chinese rule in 1997 beneath a “one country, two systems” settlement.

At that point, China agreed to uphold the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights in Hong Kong — a landmark treaty that it has signed however has not ratified for the mainland.

“There is an explicit set of higher obligations incumbent on China in Hong Kong in relation to rights like expression, assembly, fair trials that it doesn’t have for obvious reasons in mainland China, but it does for Hong Kong,” Ni Aolain stated.

“It’s no longer theoretical,” she stated.

The 14-page letter, signed by seven UN specialists, didn’t include feedback on particular person circumstances or arrests made beneath the brand new regulation.

The seven as an alternative voiced concern that the laws “lacks precision in key respects, (and) infringes on certain fundamental rights”. “The law should not be used to restrict or limit protected fundamental freedoms, including the rights to opinion, expression, and of peaceful assembly,” they stated.

The group additionally expressed concern that “many legitimate activities” of human rights defenders in Hong Kong can be redefined as unlawful beneath the broad definitions. “A person might not know if an action that they take would put them into the category of being subversive,” Ni Aolain stated. Reuters

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