HRN gives oral statement criticizing the erosion of judicial independence in Hong Kong at the Human Rights Council in Geneva

HRN has given an oral statement this week to the Human Rights Council in Geneva criticizing the erosion of judicial independence in Hong Kong. You can see a video of the oral statement below and a transcript of the statement below that. HRN also submitted a written statement to the same Council session which goes into more detail.

Thank you, Mr. President.

Human Rights Now is gravely concerned by the erosion of judicial independence in Hong Kong. For the past two years, the National Security Law and related laws have enabled the government’s crackdown on political dissent, such as the arbitrary arrest of hundreds of activists and journalists, including Jimmy Lai and other independent media staff for normal journalistic activities and the “Hong Kong 47” for their pro-democracy advocacy. Virtually all independent civil society organizations have dissolved under threat of arbitrary punishment, and even work with the United Nations itself was listed as evidence of foreign criminal collusion in one case.

Longstanding fair trial standards have also been arbitrarily denied or threatened under NSL cases, including standards against prolonged detentions, hand-picked judges, extraterritorial application, and the denial of bail, jury trial, and the right to a lawyer of one’s own choosing, inconsistent with the Human Rights Committee’s admonition that courts must not to use different standards of protection in comparable criminal trials without reasonable justification.

It is disconcerting that the institution most entrusted with protecting rights against government assault, the judiciary, has succumbed to political influence and is being weaponized against political opposition. We call on relevant authorities to respect longstanding fair trial standards in all cases and to repeal all laws inconsistent with Hong Kong’s Basic Law and international obligations, including the NSL.

Thank you.