Residents’ rights, freedoms well-protected: HK govt

They said that the National Security Law stipulates that human rights shall be respected and protected in safeguarding national security in the HKSAR.


Hong Kong residents are shopping at Causeway Bay in Hong Kong on Jan 2, 2023. [Photo/VCG]

February 20, 2023

HONG KONG – The government of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region has continued to firmly uphold the rights and freedoms enjoyed by Hong Kong residents following the implementation of the National Security Law for Hong Kong, and law enforcement actions in national security cases are evidence-based and in strict accordance with the law, a delegation from the Hong Kong government told a recent UN meeting.

The government delegation, which was led by the Permanent Secretary for Constitutional and Mainland Affairs Gracie Foo Siuwai, attended the meeting of the United Nations Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights on Wednesday and Thursday, to respond to the committee’s concerns on the human rights situation in Hong Kong.

The delegation said that the NSL clearly stipulates that human rights shall be respected and protected in safeguarding national security in the HKSAR. Any measures or enforcement actions taken under the NSL must observe that principle.

However, people’s rights and freedoms are not absolute. The International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights also states that some of these rights and freedoms may be subject to restrictions that are necessary for protection of national security, public order, etc, the delegation added.

On the committee’s concerns about bail arrangement, the delegation explained that the NSL introduces more stringent conditions to the granting of bail in national security cases as safeguarding national security is of cardinal importance.

About the recent interpretation made by the Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress on Article 14 and 47 of the NSL, the delegation said the interpretation did not confer additional powers on the city’s chief executive, and only clarified that Article 47 of the NSL is applicable in handling the controversy concerning overseas lawyers.

Article 47 stipulated that the HKSAR’s courts shall obtain a certificate from the chief executive to certify whether an act involves national security or whether the relevant evidence involves State secrets when such questions arise in the adjudication of a case. The certificate shall be binding on the courts.

“The certification system is fair and reasonable, with a solid legal basis. The certificate serves as a piece of evidence only, albeit conclusive, in the case before the court. It is still for the court to decide on other issues in the outcome of the case. There is no usurpation of the function of the court. The arrangement in this respect does not impair the independent judicial power of the Hong Kong courts,” said the delegation.

The delegation also responded to the committee’s concerns in other human rights areas, such as trade union rights, foreign domestic helpers, human trafficking and academic freedom. It also briefed the city’s latest developments on poverty alleviation, elderly services and housing.

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