HRN gives oral statement on Hong Kong at the 55th Human Rights Council Session

On March 20th, HRN gave an oral statement at the 55th session of the Human Rights Council in Geneva on Hong Kong. The statement focuses on the threats and harassment of journalists and independent media in Hong Kong and calls for the repeal of the National Security Law and the new Article 23 law, which threaten civil and political rights there.

Thank you, Mr. Vice President.

Since the National Security Law’s promulgation in Hong Kong in 2020, press freedom has significantly eroded due to threats and harassment.

At least nine major independent news media outlets have ceased operations in Hong Kong; 70% of journalists admitted self-censorship; and reporting on official events is restricted, placing Hong Kong 140th out of 180 countries in the 2023 Press Freedom Index.

Several recent cases demonstrate the continuing threats to journalists. Hong Kong journalist Minnie Chan was reported disappeared last November while attending a defense Forum in China. Ronson Chan, a journalist association chairman, was arrested in September 2022 while reporting on a public housing meeting. Other journalists and media workers have reported being surveilled, trailed, and harassed.

A recent ruling in the sedition trial of media CEO Jimmy Lai also appears to hold that normal media activities such as distributing newspapers may be criminalized as part of a seditious conspiracy when combined with the sedition law arbitrarily criminalizing a single article, significantly chilling independent media.

The Hong Kong Journalists Association has stated that Hong Kong’s domestic national security law, which just passed into law last Tuesday, risks even further irrevocable damage to press freedom due to its broadly defined offences.

We call on Hong Kong and Chinese authorities to repeal the NSL, sedition law, and the domestic NSL, release arbitrarily detained individuals, and end the harassment of journalists.

Thank you.