Civil Rights Observer today (22 December) publishes its second regular brief report on National Security Law (“NSL”) covering the third to fifth month since the promulgation of the law on 30 June 2020 in Hong Kong. As of 30 November, at least 27 arrests were made under the NSL (Note) while three people among them were prosecuted. In addition, seven non-NSL cases are investigated by the National Security Department of the Hong Kong Police Force, specifically established to enforce the NSL.
The report highlights the case of Tam Tak-chi, an activist from pro-democracy party People Power, who was charged with an archaic sedition law. Although the charges involved do not come under the NSL, the Department of Justice requested the case to be heard by a NSL designated judge, and the Judiciary allowed. It has caused confusion over the established court procedure and relevant policy.
“Both the government and the Judiciary should immediately disclose the full list of the NSL designated judges, and explain the principles and consideration of making such designation, as well as procedures and policies of passing cases for trials to the designated judges. Transparency is of the essence to maintain public confidence in our judicial system”, says spokesperson of Civil Rights Observer.
Also identified in the report is that, after the enactment of the NSL, chilling effects on civil society continue to reverberate, its ramifications have even extended to the private commercial sector. An enterprise suspended their business after being harassed with allegation of violating the NSL because of the business owner’s political stance or product designs. Moreover, the government’s decisions to disqualify four pro-democracy legislators in connection to national security without judicial input, and to revoke a primary school teacher’s license by administrative power are serious violations of procedural justice and fundamental human rights such as rights to free election as well as academic freedom.
Note: 24 people involved. Among them, Tony Chung, Yanni Ho and William Chan from now-disbanded Studentlocalism were arrested under the law for the second time on 27 October.