Hong Kong Arrests – UN Human Rights Office Calls for Immediate Release (7 Jan 2021)

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  • United Nations published this video item, entitled “Hong Kong Arrests – UN Human Rights Office Calls for Immediate Release (7 Jan 2021)” – below is their description.

    The UN human rights office (OHCHR) today (07 Jan) voiced deep concerns over the arrests of over 50 individuals under the new National Security Law in the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region, China, and called for their immediate release.

    Fifty-three political activists, academics, former legislators, current district councilors, and lawyers, were arrested on Wednesday, according to the office.

    Liz Throssell, OHCHR spokesperson, said that the arrests were the latest in a series of detentions related to the exercise of fundamental freedoms, including the right to peaceful assembly, in Hong Kong.

    SOUNDBITE (English) Liz Throssell, Spokesperson for the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR): “We are deeply concerned about the arrests on Wednesday of 53 political activists, academics, former legislators, current district councillors, and lawyers in the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region, and we call for their immediate release. These latest arrests indicate that – as had been feared – the offence of subversion under the National Security Law is indeed being used to detain individuals for exercising legitimate rights to participate in political and public life. The UN Human Rights Office and independent UN human rights experts have repeatedly warned that offences such as subversion under the National Security Law, which was passed in June 2020, are vague and overly broad, facilitating abusive or arbitrary implementation. Yesterday’s arrests were the latest in a series of detentions related to the exercise of fundamental freedoms, including the right to peaceful assembly, in Hong Kong. We stress that exercise of the right to take part in the conduct of public affairs, directly and through freely chosen representatives, is a fundamental right protected by the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), which is incorporated into Hong Kong’s Basic Law. We call on the authorities to uphold their obligations under the International Covenant, and to refrain from using the National Security Law to suppress the rights to freedom of expression, peaceful assembly and association. We also urge the authorities to guarantee the right to freedom of expression in the context of ongoing investigations, including by allowing journalists and news organisations to fully and freely exercise their legitimate functions.”

    OHCHR and independent UN human rights experts have repeatedly warned that offences such as subversion under the National Security Law, passed in June 2020, are vague and overly broad, facilitating abusive or arbitrary implementation.

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    In This Story: Hong Kong

    Hong Kong, officially the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region of the People’s Republic of China (HKSAR), is a metropolitan area and special administrative region of the People’s Republic of China on the eastern Pearl River Delta of the South China Sea. With over 7.5 million residents of various nationalities in a 1,104-square-kilometre (426 sq mi) territory, Hong Kong is one of the most densely populated places in the world.

    Hong Kong became a colony of the British Empire after the Qing Empire ceded Hong Kong Island at the end of the First Opium War in 1842. The colony expanded to the Kowloon Peninsula in 1860 after the Second Opium War and was further extended when Britain obtained a 99-year lease of the New Territories in 1898. The whole territory was transferred to China in 1997. As a special administrative region, Hong Kong maintains separate governing and economic systems from that of mainland China under the principle of “one country, two systems”.

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