Posts

HONG KONG HK

UN express concerns over Hong Kong National Security Law

Seven UN human rights experts signed a letter to the Chinese government expressing concerns about whether China is complying with its international obligations for human rights standards. The letter, made public Friday, specifically questioned The Law of the People’s Republic of China on Safeguarding National Security in the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region, or the “National Security Law.”

As noted in the letter, sent September 1, the UN has expressed concerns regarding this law before and has exchanged several communications with Chinese officials about it. The UN members who wrote this letter also cited numerous obligations imposed by the UN requiring greater care in the passage of laws, such as by encouraging specific laws so as to “prevent ill-defined and/or overly broad laws which are open to arbitrary application and abuse and may lead to arbitrary deprivation of liberty.”

The National Security Law at issue was passed on July 1, and it went into force that same day. It specifies four categories of offenses that are said to endanger national security: “secession, subversion, terrorism and collusion with a foreign country or with external elements.”

Terrorism is defined broadly as including damage to physical property “such as sabotage of transport facilities or public services.” A UN Special Rapporteur released a thematic report in 2019 stating that “[d]efinitions of terrorism that include damage to property, including public property … seriously affect the right to freedom of assembly … [and] can be used against individuals engaging in social movements where damage to property is unwittingly incurred.”

In light of these and other concerns expressed in the letter, the UN requested a response to their points, an explanation of how the law does not infringe on the rights that China is obligated to provide under international law, how the country will be enforcing the law to not infringe on such rights, and the positive measures and oversight of the exercising of this law.

A Foreign Ministry spokesperson, Hua Chunying commented on the UN letter during a press conference on Friday, stating “We urge [the UN] to earnestly respect the purposes and principles of the UN Charter, discard ignorance, prejudice and double standards, and stop interfering in Hong Kong affairs and China’s internal affairs.” Chunying also stated that the law is widely accepted in Hong Kong, despite the many ongoing protests against the law throughout the region.

UN Condemns Thailand poultry producer for silencing human rights defenders

A group of United Nations (UN) experts condemned Thammakaset, a Thai poultry producer, for alleged targeting of human rights defenders Thursday.

In 2019, Thammakaset allegedly used Thai defamation laws to sue and have prosecuted ten individuals who criticized Thammakaset’s labor practices for human rights abuses. The UN experts called upon Thailand to reform defamation laws based on the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights to prevent companies from silencing human rights activists.

Thailand is the first country in the Asia Pacific region to have a national action plan against human rights abuses in business. Additionally, Thailand has recently proposed to amend laws and protect human rights defenders.

Despite these promising actions, the UN experts recommended that Thailand take further action:

Although the adoption of the national action plan and the amendment to the Criminal Procedure Code to protect human rights defenders are positive steps in the right direction, it is time for the Thai Government to ensure that these measures are effective and that companies like Thammakaset stop vexatious legal proceedings against human rights defenders.

The report follows a March 2018 report to the Human Rights Council that previously called upon Thailand to reform its defamation laws for similar concerns.