postponed 2020 Legislative Council Election. 15 defendants granted bail by the Chief Magistrate now remain detained as the Department of Justice has appealed against the bail. Civil Rights Observer is disappointed by the exceptionally high threshold for bail under the National Security Law (NSL). The Department of Justice’s insistence on opposing bails has made it the norm for the defendants charged with NSL offences to be detained before conviction. We criticise the hearing arrangements and the inhumane treatments towards the detained defendants. The failure to provide adequate legal, medical, health and hygiene support to the defendants is believed to have violated the International Covenant on Civil and Political Right and United Nations’ Body of Principles for the Protection of All Persons under Any Form of Detention or Imprisonment which guarantee to protect those before conviction.
The defendants were detained from February 28 until March 1 on which the days of hearing started. According to reports, 7 people have been unwell and sent to hospital. Some defendants reported through their lawyers that they did not get to freshen up and get changed for 3 days and 3 nights, and their family members’ requests for replacement clothing were rejected; some defendants needed long-term medication, but the medication was not delivered; there were also defendants whose meetings with lawyers had not been arranged before the hearing began.
Principle 1 of United Nations’ Body of Principles for the Protection of All Persons under Any Form of Detention or Imprisonment states that “all persons under any form of detention or imprisonment shall be treated in a humane manner and with respect for the inherent dignity of the human person”. The authorities are responsible for providing desirable rest space, meeting the detainees’ dietary and medical needs and taking care of their personal hygiene (Note 1). At the same time, the defendants’ treatment during remand should be commensurate with their unconvicted status (Note 2). According to information from the Correctional Services Department, a bath will be arranged for the prisoner once a day. The defendants in this case were also manned by the Correctional Services Department, therefore the treatment they received and the personal hygiene standard bestowed should never have been inferior to other persons in custody.
Civil Rights Observer believes that the prosecution arrangement of the case was not well prepared and coordinated, which caused a number of problems in the process of trial and detention. It urges the Department of Justice, the Judiciary, the Police and the Correctional Services Department to ensure that the rights and dignity of the defendants during the trial are respected and protected.
Note 1: United Nations’ Standard Minimum Rules for the Treatment of Prisoners states the many rights of prisoners, including desirable rest space (Articles 9 & 10), food and drink (Articles 20 & 21), medical services (Articles 22 to 26), and access to shower at least once a week to ensure personal hygiene (Article 13). https://www.ohchr.org/EN/ProfessionalInterest/Pages/TreatmentOfPrisoners.aspx
Note 2: Article 10(2) of International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights