Hong Kong and human rights

 

Sir, – I refer to the letter by John Cushnahan (July 2nd), 2020 on the national security law in Hong Kong. The letter says that the law would override Hong Kong laws and its judicial independence, effectively ending Hong Kong’s autonomy. It added that freedom of speech, human rights and the right to political dissent will be casualties.

I respect Mr Cushnahan’s views and am delighted that he cares so much about developments in Hong Kong.

However, the law does not target anyone. It targets specifically four offences: secession, subversion, terrorism and collusion with a foreign country or with external elements to endanger national security.

The law aims to restore stability in Hong Kong, after a year of escalating violence and riots since last June.

Article 4 of the national security law stipulates that the principle of respecting and protecting human rights shall be upheld in safeguarding national security.

The legitimate rights of Hong Kong citizens to exercise their freedom of speech, of the press, of assembly, of demonstration, and of procession in accordance with the basic law and the provisions of the international covenant on civil and political rights and the international covenant on economic, social and cultural rights should not be compromised. It is relevant to note that the above mentioned international covenants also stipulated that certain basic rights and freedoms of individuals can be restricted through legislation for the purpose of safeguarding national security. – Yours, etc,

EDDIE CHEUNG,

Special Representative

for Hong Kong Economic

and Trade Affairs to the

European Union,

Hong Kong Economic

Brussels.

Sir, – The national security law recently adopted in Hong Kong is an unprecedented threat not just to supporters of democracy in the Hong Kong special autonomous region but could have a chilling effect on free speech globally.

It is imperative that the Government suspends our extradition arrangements with Hong Kong in order to protect Irish citizens and to protest the blatant disregard the law shows for human rights and international justice norms.

It is a law that is extra-territorial in nature, empowering the Chinese security services now based in Hong Kong with the power of arrest of any person, regardless of citizenship, who supports democracy in the region, and uttered such support outside Chinese territory.

The law allows any individual to be extradited to mainland China and to be denied consular assistance, legal representation and contact with family members. Further, the law allows for the removal of judges where the executive of Hong Kong believes their statements (potentially including rulings) endanger “national security”.

It is vague in its definitions of what is a crime under the law and how these may be interpreted by a court as either minor or major when passing sentence.

The decisions of the Office for Safeguarding National Security of the Central People’s Government in Hong Kong are not subject to review by the Hong Kong courts, but instead by courts in mainland China, where the likelihood that a fair trial or hearing is all but non-existent.

Both Canada and Australia have suspended their extradition arrangements with Hong Kong.

This is an issue that should draw cross-party support in the Dáil, and I would urge politicians to make representations to the Minister for Justice to suspend our arrangement with Hong Kong immediately. – Yours, etc,

STEVE CONLON, PhD

Dublin 1.