China's security law a 'serious risk' to Hong Kong's freedoms: UN experts

The

The"open letter reflected a detailed legal analysis of the national security law imposed in Hong Kong on June 30

Police figures show that at least 20 people have been arrested for breaking the national security law, which carries a maximum life sentence.

Hua urged the experts to "abandon their ignorance, prejudices and double-standards, and stop by all means interfering with Hong Kong's issues and China's internal affairs".

"The crimes of secession, subversion of state power, terrorist activities, and collusion with foreign or external forces to endanger national security" are the four crimes included in the new security law.

The Beijing-imposed security law sparked waves of protests in Hong Kong.

United Nations human rights experts had told China that Hong Kong's new security law "infringes on certain fundamental rights" and voiced concerns that it could be used to prosecute political activists in the former British colony.

China says the law is necessary to tackle secession, subversion, terrorism, and collusion with foreign forces following violent anti-government protests that escalated in June past year.

Amid a resurgence of the novel coronavirus, the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR) government has sought assistance from the central government to launch a universal screening for the virus.

Critics say the law effectively ends the "one country, two systems" framework under which Hong Kong was promised a high degree of autonomy after it was passed from British to Chinese rule in 1997.

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On August 10, Hong Kong authorities arrested the pro-democracy tycoon, and owner of the Apple Daily newspaper, Jimmy Lai.

"The National Security Law poses a serious risk that those fundamental freedoms and due pocess protections may be infringed upon", the letter said, warning that the legislation may "impinge impermissibly on the rights to freedom of opinion, expression and of peaceful assembly".

It also highlighted the undermining of the independence judges and lawyers in the semiautonomous Chinese territory.

"This is the first comprehensive UN assessment of the law", Fionnuala Ni Aolain, UN special rapporteur on protecting human rights, said.

The UN experts, however, said: "We caution that overly broad national security legislation where the precise perimeters of individual actions to be criminalized are vague and open-ended would run counter to this aspect of your Excellency's [China's] treaty obligations".

The sweeping legislation has drawn criticism for stipulating that the destruction of government facilities and utilities would be considered subversive, while damaging public transportation facilities constitutes an act of terrorism.

The rapporteurs urged China's "reconsideration" of the legislation and for a fully independent reviewer to be appointed to ensure it complies with China's global human rights obligations.

They also expressed concerns over the risks of breaching worldwide human rights obligations when local cases were passed on to China's national security office.

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