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China/Hong Kong SAR: Security Law Must Meet Human Rights Obligations, Says Bachelet

The UN Human Rights chief Michelle Bachelet said today her Office was closely following consideration in China’s National People’s Congress of a draft national security law for the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR).

While the law is not available for review yet, Bachelet stressed that any legislation for HKSAR and its implementation must fully comply with China’s human rights obligations and respect the provisions of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights as applied to Hong Kong. Article 39 of the Basic Law of the Hong Kong SAR also provides that any restrictions on rights and freedoms shall not contravene these provisions.

The UN Human Rights Office, along with independent UN human rights experts, including the Committee against Torture, has previously expressed concerns that the national security law adopted in 2015 for mainland China does not comply with international human rights standards.

Any law on national security should be clear in scope and definition, and only permit restrictions to human rights that are strictly necessary and proportionate. There should be meaningful legislative and judicial oversight of the implementation of such legislation. “Such laws can never be used to criminalize conduct and expression that is protected under international human rights law,” Bachelet said.

Public debates and participation in the decision-making process relating to national security measures are also crucial, considering the potential such measures have to restrict people’s human rights.

The UN Human Rights Office has engaged with the Chinese authorities on this matter and will continue to monitor the situation closely. The Human Rights Committee will also begin its latest periodic review of compliance by Hong Kong SAR with the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights later this year.

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