Submission to the Human Rights Committee – Hong Kong
During its 135th session, the Human Rights Committee will consider the fourth state report submitted by Hong Kong and adopt concluding observations that will assist the State party in the implementation of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR). Lawyers for Lawyers and The 29 Principles have taken the opportunity to file a submission to inform the Human Rights Committee of the situation of lawyers in Hong Kong.
The submission identifies four main issues. These include the incompatibility of Hong Kong’s National Security Law with the ICCPR, the criminal prosecution and harassment of lawyers, the reform of the legal aid system and the external interference in the work of judges.
Ever since its adoption, the National Security Law has led to the arbitrary or politically motivated persecution of human rights defenders and lawyers. An increasing number of lawyers and pro-democracy activists have been arrested on charges of subversion, for organizing illegal assemblies, exercising their right to freedom of expression or defending human rights. The report provides examples of lawyers who have faced harassment or persecution for their involvement in human rights, LGBTQ+ and politically-sensitive cases.
Furthermore, the National Security Law also threatens the independence of the Hong Kong judiciary, with systematic attacks from the Chinese authorities against judges. The submission also addresses the political pressure put on the Hong Kong Bar Association. As a result, this severely undermines the proper functioning of the rule of law and access to justice for all, including the right to a fair trial.
Lawyers for Lawyers and The 29 Principles therefore recommend the Human Rights Committee to focus their concluding observations on the following:
- Review the National Security Law to ensure its compliance with the fundamental rights and freedoms contained in the ICCPR;
- Take measures to prevent the harassment of lawyers and attempts to impede or interfere on improper grounds with their defence of clients;
- Take measures to guarantee the effective protection of the right of freedom of expression of lawyers, in particular their right to take part in public discussion of matters concerning the law, the administration of justice the promotion and protection of human rights;
- Ensure that the Bar Association and the Law Society in Hong Kong can operate without any political interference and express their views without fear of reprisals.
The full report can be found here.
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