Australia concerned about Hong Kong national security laws

By Naomi Neilson|01 June 2020
Hong Kong

The Australian law council has expressed concerns about China’s national security laws, which contain “deeply troubling and problematic features”.

China’s National People’s Congress is unilaterally seeking to enact national security laws in a Hong Kong Special Administration Region (HKSAR), but the Law Council of Australia (LCA) is concerned the draft decision breaches an international convent on civil rights.

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The contents of the draft decision indicated the new laws are seeking to prevent and will penalise acts of secession, subversion of state power and prohibit political organisations in the HKSAR establishing ties with foreign political organisations.

The decision also authorises the Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress (NPCSC) to create laws and enforcement mechanisms to “safeguard national security”.

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“The concern is that what constitutes ‘acts of secession’ and ‘subversion of power’ and in ‘political organisations’ may be interpreted widely and capture activities that are protected by International [Covenant] on Civil and Political Rights,” said LCA president Pauline Wright.

The Law Council reiterated concerns expressed by the Hong Kong Bar Association when questioning the legality of the proposed laws, and fears that the new laws will be absorbed into Hong Kong’s basic law by way of decree from the chief executive.

It comes after a joint statement by Minister for Foreign Affairs Marise Payne and UK, US and Canadian counterparts, which outlines concerns that the proposed national security laws run counter to the need for respectful dialogue towards peaceful resolutions.

“The international legal community is alarmed that these laws, drafted by NPCSC, could be made law without adequate public consultation,” Ms Wright said.

“The Law Council is deeply troubled the laws will undermine rights protected by ICCPR. In particular, the rights to freedom of opinion and expression, freedom of association and the freedom of peaceful assembly.”

Australia concerned about Hong Kong national security laws
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