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IBAHRI raises alarm over Hong Kong's safeguarding national security law

IBAHRI raises alarm over Hong Kong's safeguarding national security law


The International Bar Association’s Human Rights Institute (IBAHRI) has issued a stark warning regarding the implementation of the Safeguarding National Security Law (SNS Law) in Hong Kong

Enacted on March 23, 2024, following an expedited legislative process by the Hong Kong Legislative Council, the law poses significant threats to democratic rights and the independence of the legal profession.

IBAHRI has voiced deep concerns over the rapid passage of the SNS Law, which strengthens existing offenses and introduces new measures related to treason, espionage, external interference, state secrets, and sedition. The institute highlights that these provisions severely curtail fundamental human rights, including freedom of expression, peaceful assembly, association, and the right to a fair trial.

Moreover, IBAHRI underscores the broad and vague definitions of alleged crimes within the SNS Law, which could pave the way for arbitrary and politically motivated prosecutions, fostering an environment of self-censorship and suppressing dissent.

Of particular concern is Clause 76 of the SNS Law, which empowers authorities to ban certain lawyers or law firms from representing clients suspected of national security offenses. This provision, along with Clause 77, which restricts detainees from consulting with lawyers for 48 hours under certain circumstances, poses significant threats to the independence of the legal profession and contravenes both domestic and international legal standards.

Anne Ramberg Dr Jur hc, Co-Chair of IBAHRI, emphasized the authoritarian nature of the SNS Law and urged Hong Kong and China’s authorities to uphold fundamental human rights and strengthen Hong Kong’s autonomy under the principle of "one country, two systems."

Mark Stephens CBE, Co-Chair of IBAHRI, stressed the pivotal role of lawyers in upholding the rule of law and defending human rights, condemning the SNS Law's blatant denial of these principles. He warned that the law intensifies executive authority and obstructs the intervention of lawyers, the foremost defenders of people's rights and freedoms.

IBAHRI's statements underscore the urgent need for action to protect the rule of law, safeguard human rights, and ensure the independence of the legal profession in Hong Kong. The institute calls on authorities to respect international legal standards and uphold the principles of justice and democracy.

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