Hong Kongers in UK must be protected from 'dangerous' new Article 23 legislation

‘The UK government needs to make sure the Hong Kong diaspora living here feel safe and free from the long arm of this legislation’ - Kerry Moscogiuri

Responding to an announcement by Hong Kong’s Chief Executive John Lee that Hong Kong’s legislature would open a public consultation over a new draft national security law - known locally as Article 23 legislation - Sarah Brooks, Amnesty International’s China Director, said:

“This is potentially the most dangerous moment for human rights in Hong Kong since the introduction of the National Security Law in 2020.

“The new proposed Article 23 legislation could further entrench repression in the city.

“In 2003, half a million Hongkongers took to the streets to successfully protest against the possible introduction of Article 23.

“For the Government to revisit the law over 20 years later - while at the same time prosecuting critical speech and jailing members of the political opposition - makes it clear that this legislation was never intended to reflect the concerns of the electorate.

“Instead - as with the National Security Law, which has been used to persecute human rights activists, politicians, journalists and civil society groups – Hong Kong authorities are likely to push through this legislation with minimal meaningful consultation, and without ensuring its compliance with international law.”

Kerry Moscogiuri, Amnesty International UK’s Director of Campaigns, said:

“Article 23 is designed to have a chilling effect far beyond Hong Kong itself and the UK government needs to make sure the Hong Kong diaspora living here feel safe and free from the long arm of this legislation.

“The UK is host to the largest diaspora Hong Kong community and so our Government has a special responsibility to make sure they are effectively protected and free to speak out about the appalling human rights situation in Hong Kong, especially when those who remain there have been silenced.”

Seven offences under Article 23 

Article 23 of the basic law of Hong Kong’s mini constitution requires that the Government pass laws to prohibit seven offences: treason, secession, sedition, subversion against the central people’s Government, theft of state secrets, to prohibit foreign political organisations or bodies from conducting political activities in the region, and to prohibit political organisations or bodies of the region from establishing ties with foreign political organisations or bodies.

Earlier today, the Hong Kong authorities released a consultation paper that describes national security risks, principles of the legislation, international comparisons, and a final chapter of “shortcomings and deficiencies” in previous cases. The public consultation period will run until 28 February.

ENDS

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