Four UN Special Rapporteurs issued a statement today (9 Oct) and expressed serious concern about the first mass trial of 47 people underway since February 2023 under the Hong Kong National Security Legislation (NSL) and the issuance of arrest warrants and bounties against pro-democracy figures from the Hong Kong SAR currently in exile overseas.
Over 100 arrests have been made under the NSL since the law was implemented on 1 July 2020. Those charged include former lawmakers, activists, social workers, academics, trade unionists, and journalists. “We have expressed our concerns about the NSL to China in the past. We are very troubled about the use of mass trials in NSL cases and how they may negatively affect safeguards that ensure due process and the right to a fair trial,” the experts said in the statement.
The statement also covered the recent arrest warrants and bounties against eight pro-democracy figures in self-exile, based in Australia, the UK, and the USA. The activists include former lawmakers Dennis Kwok, Ted Hui and Nathan Law, lawyer and scholar Kevin Yam, unionist Mung Siu-tat, and pro-democracy activists Anna Kwok and Finn Lau. All are accused of violating the NSL while in exile. “The charges appear to seek to punish statements allegedly made by each individual criticising the Chinese government’s policies and their activities in support of democracy in Hong Kong,” the experts said.
The experts said China should review its National Law to ensure that the law complies with China’s international human rights obligations concerning Hong Kong.
The four Special Rapporteurs include The Special Rapporteur on the independence of judges and lawyers; the Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms while countering terrorism; the Special Rapporteur on the rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and of association; and the Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of the right to freedom of opinion and expression.
The United Nations Human Rights Council are in preparation for the upcoming Universal Periodic Review (UPR) in Hong Kong in January 2024. This would be the first UPR review since the Hong Kong National Security Law (NSL) was implemented. Hong Kong Labour Rights Monitor has submitted a report to the United Nations Human Rights Council for that purpose. The full report can be found here.