Following massive street protests in the 2019-2020, many young human rights advocates and democratic supporters were prosecuted under statutory offences originally enacted during the British colonial era in Hong Kong as well as the newly promulgated National Security Law for Hong Kong without public consultation by the Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress of PRC. On one hand, the Chinese Government has indicated that it wants to ‘decolonize’ all features as previously operated by the British in Hong Kong, including the separation of powers and election system. Paradoxically, on the other hand, the local Hong Kong government endeavours to use the mischief of colonial-era offences – such as unlawful assembly, rioting, acts of sedition, publication of seditious materials, etc.
Yet Hong Kong is one of the few jurisdictions that has directly accepted the provisions of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights; incorporated by both the British and Chinese Governments through the Bill of Rights Ordinance (Cap. 383, Laws of Hong Kong) in early the 1990s and then through the Basic Law, Hong Kong’s effective constitutional document. Is it justifiable to allow outdated and draconian colonial legislation in addition to the new National Security Law to be used as a tool to persecute human rights defenders and democratic supporters in the context of widely adopted international human rights norms?
Joy Luk is the first and the only blind Solicitor in Hong Kong. She holds an LLM in Human Rights from the University of Hong Kong and is an accredited mediator. She is a tireless advocate for disability justice and previously worked as an Investigation Officer at the statutory body of Equal Opportunity Commission of Hong Kong.
Jamie Liew is an Associate Professor at the University of Ottawa Faculty of Law. She is a recognized expert in immigration, refugee and citizenship law, administrative law, and public law, as well as co-author (along with Donald Galloway) of Immigration Law, published by Irwin Law.