Geneva: A group of independent human rights experts on Tuesday expressed concern over the arrest of Hong Kong pro-democracy activist and woman human rights defender Chow Hang-Tung on charges of “incitement to subversion” and being a foreign agent.
The rights lawyer was arrested last month. She was a member of the Hong Kong Alliance, an advocacy group that organised an annual candlelight vigil marking the 1989 protests in Tiananmen Square, UN News reported.
Several other activists have been similarly arrested and charged under the National Security Law. The law came into force at the end of June 2020, giving Chinese authorities greater power and control over all aspects of life in Hong Kong.
“Terrorism and sedition charges are being improperly used to stifle the exercise of fundamental rights, which are protected under international law, including freedom of expression and opinion, freedom of peaceful assembly and the right to participate in public affairs”, said Special Rapporteurs.
Special Rapporteurs are basically appointed by the Geneva-based UN Human Rights Council to examine and report back on a specific human rights theme or a country situation.
The experts detailed their concerns about the National Security Law in the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region to the Government of China, highlighting the law’s fundamental incompatibility with international law and the country’s human rights obligations. They also raised their concerns over the qualification concerning the charge of “foreign agent” under the Law in which reference is made to funding received from foreign Governments.
The experts reminded the Government that terrorism and subversion of national security are profoundly serious offences that are strictly defined under international law.
“These labels should not be applied to offenses that do not meet the thresholds provided for in existing international standards”, said the Rapporteurs and warned that doing so “undermines the integrity of these legal standards weakening binding international law norms across both human rights and international peace and security”.
They encouraged the government to urgently repeal and independently review the National Security Law to ensure that it is both human rights and international law compliant.