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    Hong Kong: Governments Should Oppose Security Bill


    (New York) – National governments should strongly oppose the Hong Kong government’s introduction of so-called Article 23 national security legislation, which will further devastate human rights protections in Hong Kong, 86 civil society groups including Human Rights Watch, said today in a joint statement. On January 30, 2024, the Hong Kong government announced a four-week “public consultation” period for a new national security law under Article 23 of the Basic Law, Hong Kong’s de facto constitution.

    Concerned governments should publicly denounce the proposed law and impose targeted sanctions, including asset freezes and travel bans, on the responsible Hong Kong and Chinese officials.

    “Article 23 is Beijing’s latest effort to transform Hong Kong from a free society to an oppressed one where people live in fear,” said Maya Wang, acting China director at Human Rights Watch. “Passage of this law will mean that even more of Hong Kong people’s basic rights will be taken away from them.”

    The proposed law would prohibit a range of vague and overly broad offenses. It would punish people who “induce…disaffection against” the Chinese government. It would use procedural changes to dramatically undermine due process and fair trial rights, including by extending police detention without charge and restricting access to lawyers. These changes will exacerbate the impact of the draconian National Security Law, which the Chinese government imposed in June 2020, and then promptly crushed the city’s civil society, independent media, and democracy movement.

    The response of foreign governments to the proposed law has thus far been muted, Human Rights Watch said. Few governments have made formal and public statements opposing the law, which the Hong Kong government has trumpeted as tacit support.

    The civil society groups, from around the world, urged foreign governments to publicly oppose the introduction of Article 23, impose sanctions on responsible officials, and protect Hong Kong people and activists in exile. They also urged international companies and foreign chambers of commerce to express concerns to the Hong Kong and Chinese authorities and re-evaluate their business risks and possible complicity in human rights violations.

    “Concerned governments should step up efforts to hold Hong Kong and Chinese officials responsible for rights violations to account,” Wang said. “They should impose asset freezes, travel bans, and other targeted sanctions, and send a clear message that repression has a cost.”



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