Home LATEST NEWS Hong Kong to create new “national security” offenses

Hong Kong to create new “national security” offenses

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The new legislation, which will include around 40 offenses, will complement the draconian national security law imposed in June 2020 by Beijing and which has made it possible to muzzle any dissent in the theoretically semi-autonomous territory.

This text targets secession, subversion, terrorism and collusion with foreign powers, four offenses punishable by life imprisonment.

The chief executive has indicated that her government will adopt legislation in accordance with article 23 of the Basic Law, the mini-constitution of the theoretically semi-autonomous territory, which provides for Hong Kong to legislate for its own national security.

The legislative process relating to section 23 is part of the constitutional obligation and cannot be delayed any longer.

A quote from Carrie Lam, Chief Executive of Hong Kong

Ms. Lam, who intends to present her draft law before the end of June, did not specify the content of these new offenses.

Article 23 deals with betrayal, secession, sedition (and) subversion.

It also aims to prohibit foreign political organizations from carrying out political activities in Hong Kong and local political organizations from having links with foreign political bodies.

A woman holds an umbrella and walks under the flags.

Hundreds of Chinese flags were hung near a Hong Kong shopping mall this summer ahead of the 100th anniversary of the founding of the Chinese Communist Party.

Photo: Reuters / Tyrone Siu

Lam praises the national security law

China had imposed its national security law in June 2020 in Hong Kong after massive and often violent pro-democracy protests that rocked the territory the previous year.

Written in a very vague manner, it made almost all forms of dissent illegal and reshaped the city, once considered a bastion of freedoms, to the image of authoritarian China.

Most of the figures of the pro-democracy movement are now in prison, have abandoned politics or have fled abroad.

The vast majority of national security offenses concern people who have defended or expressed political views which are now considered illegal.

The Basic Law came into force upon the handover of Hong Kong to China in 1997, and Article 23 provides for the adoption of local law aimed at ensuring national security in the former British colony.

In 2003, the government had to give up implementing this article 23 following major protests. This is why Beijing decided in 2020 to impose a national security law on Hong Kong.

This new local bill is unlikely to be passed as the Legislative Council is now reserved for “patriots” following new rules aimed at preventing the presence of any opposition.

In the December poll, only 20 of its 90 members were elected by direct universal suffrage, with the remaining 70 nominated by committees loyal to Beijing.

Group photo of several dozen men and women.

Hong Kong Legislative Council MPs pose for photographers after their swearing-in on January 3, 2022.

Photo: The Canadian Press / AP / Vincent Yu

A college of electors acquired in Beijing will have to elect a new chief executive in March. Ms Lam, whose five-year term ends in June, has yet to say whether she plans to run again.

On Wednesday, she admitted that it seems difficult for the bill to be completed before the end of her first term.

Addressing a hemicycle whose walls now bear China’s red and gold national emblem – placed above the city’s official seal – Ms Lam plucked praise for Beijing’s national security law.

Its current function is to be an anchor to ensure stability and let people know that there are consequences.she told lawmakers, adding that the new legislation would also well written.

The law requires us to prevent, suppress and punish crimes. If the prevention is done well, we will be able to punish less.

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