Hong Kong’s national security law could restrict fundamental human rights such as freedom of expression and right to a fair trial, England and Wales' leading legal professional bodies have said, joining a wave of global protest.
Imposed by China, the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region National Security Law criminalises subversion, secession, terrorism and collusion with foreign powers. However, the Law Society and the Bar Council said these crimes are ‘vaguely defined’ and sentencing provisions are unclear about what constitutes a grave or minor offence.
In a joint letter to Carrie Lam, the Hong Kong chief executive, the Law Society and the Bar Council said they were ‘gravely alarmed’ by the new law, which ‘was not adequately published thereby undermining the principle of legal certainty’.
They added that the law – which was passed on 30 June – threatens judicial independence, the right to freedom of assembly, right to freedom of association, right to freedom of expression, right to liberty and security of the person, and the right to a fair trial.
A Law Society of England and Wales spokesperson said: ‘The law could be used to stem dissent, as well as to arrest and criminally prosecute persons who legally exercise their internationally recognised human rights.
‘We will monitor the application of this law in practice and stand in solidarity with legal professionals in Hong Kong and others in their efforts to uphold the rule of law and fundamental rights in their jurisdiction.’