Delegates from other countries call on HK to repeal the National Security Law during the UN Human Rights Council Universal Periodic Review

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The United Nations Human Rights Council today (23 January) held its Universal Periodic Review (UPR) on the human rights situation in China, including Hong Kong. This is the first time since the National Security Law (NSL) implementation in Hong Kong. As deputy head of China’s delegation, the Chief Secretary for Administration, Eric Chan Kwok-ki, said that with the implementation of the NSL and an improved electoral system, the days of social disturbance and fear are now over. Stability and law and order have been restored, and the city is back on track. However, his comments were challenged by delegates from other countries, questioning the human rights situation in Hong Kong and calling for the repeal of the NSL and an end to the persecution of human rights defenders.

Chan said Hong Kong people continue to enjoy the legitimate rights and freedoms guaranteed by our country’s constitution, the basic law, and the relevant provisions of international confidence that apply to Hong Kong. The basic law protects Hong Kong’s common law system and the independent exercise of the judiciary. He further pointed out that Hong Kong has what it takes to be a successful global city. He said, “With unwavering support from our country and a unique one-country, two-systems formula, Hong Kong will continue to prosper as the city where the global advantage and the China advantage converge.”

While Chan claimed that Hong Kong people enjoy freedom, the United States, the United Kingdom, Austria, Denmark and other countries demanded that the Hong Kong government cease targeting and arbitrary detention of human rights defenders and journalists. France, Japan, Australia and others have asked that the Hong Kong government protect Hong Kong people’s freedom of press, speech and association. The Netherlands has called for an end to online censorship, intimidation and surveillance of media and journalists. The United Kingdom, the United States, Canada, Australia and New Zealand have called on the Hong Kong government to follow the recommendations of the UN Committee of Experts on the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) to repeal the NSL and stop using it to persecute human rights defenders and suppress civil society.

On the eve of today’s meeting, four UN experts issued a statement calling the Hong Kong authorities to immediately release Next Digital founder Jimmy Lai and drop all charges against him. In the statement, they also called on Hong Kong to repeal the NSL. They stressed that the NSL should not be used to target those who exercise their rights to expression and peaceful assembly.

When faced with calls from many countries to ratify the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), the representative of China claimed that China values ratifying the ICCPR. And as to when to ratify, the representative said it depends on when the national conditions are ready. In response to criticism of the imprisonment of human rights defenders in various countries, the representative of China responded that they should be punished for violating the law, stressing that “There is no person, no place beyond the law and no profession, no identity can be an excuse for evasion of justice.”