UN rights workplace expresses alarm at Hong Kong arrests below new safety regulation

Independent UN rights experts call for decisive measures to protect ‘fundamental freedoms’ in China

Spokesperson Rupert Colville told journalists in Geneva on Friday that the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights was persevering with to investigate the brand new regulation after it got here into power on Wednesday, relating to its compliance with worldwide human rights obligations:

“I think several hundred people have been arrested since protests began on Wednesday, I think the last I heard, we understood 10 of those people have been charged under the new law, but I don’t have more details at this point on the nature of the charges at this point and so on.”

He added that colleagues are “very much actively counting, trying to get those kinds of details and we’ll see what kind of concerns we have about individual cases.”

Mr. Colville pointed to “vague and overly broad” definitions of some offences within the new regulation that had been adopted by China’s National People’s Congress.

“This may lead to discriminatory or arbitrary interpretation and enforcement of the law, which could undermine human rights protection,” he defined.

Reiterating considerations about restrictions on freedom of expression highlighted by High Commissioner Michelle Bachelet, the OHCHR official insisted that such legal guidelines “should never be used to criminalize conduct and expression that is protected under international human rights law”.

Principle of legality

Offences created below the brand new nationwide safety laws ought to adjust to the precept of legality, which is enshrined in article 15.1 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, Mr. Colville added.

The growth follows a joint declaration by dozens of UN-appointed unbiased rights specialists alleging the repression of “fundamental freedoms” of Hong Kong protesters.

Citing the alleged use of chemical brokers in opposition to demonstrators, the specialists additionally alleged sexual harassment and assault of girls protesters in police stations; along with the alleged harassment of well being care employees.

The regulation had been drafted with out significant session with the folks of Hong Kong, they continued, including that it risked undermining the fitting to a good trial and will immediate a “sharp rise in arbitrary detention”.

The unbiased specialists are neither UN employees nor paid by the Organization.

One nation, two techniques

The “one country, two systems” governance framework that was launched on the finish of British rule additionally risked being undermined, the specialists insisted, enabling the Chinese Government to determine “agencies” in Hong Kong “when needed”.

Provisions governing the offence of “collusion with a foreign country or with external elements to endanger national security” contained in article 29 of the brand new regulation have been additionally regarding, the OHCHR spokesperson added.

“This may lead to a restriction of civic space and of the possibility for civil society actors to exercise their right to participate in public affairs,” he mentioned.

“These provisions could also lead to criminalizing human rights defenders and activists for the exercise of their right to freedom of expression, association and peaceful assembly.”

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