Hong Kong Chief Executive John Lee on Jan. 30 announced the commencement of a four-week consultation period for a new local security law under Article 23 of the Basic Law, the city’s mini-constitution. Article 23 mandates that the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR) pass its own laws to prohibit crimes such as treason, secession, sedition and subversion against China’s Central People’s Government.
During the announcement at the Central Government Offices, Lee said that the proposed legislation seeks to safeguard national sovereignty, security and development interests, while respecting and protecting human rights. Secretary for Justice Paul Lam argued that national security and human rights are inherently linked, citing the 2019 protests as having violated the rights of citizens.
The Security Bureau has released a consultation paper to gather public opinions on the matter. The paper outlines supposed risks to national security, the necessity of legislation to protect it, and the legal principles enshrined in Article 23.
This legislation would build on the National Security Law imposed by Beijing in June 2020, which criminalizes secession, subversion, foreign collusion, and terrorism.
Massive protests involving an estimated 500,000 participants halted the previous attempt to legislate Article 23 in 2003. The current push highlights the Hong Kong government’s efforts to address “soft resistance,” such as online activity that may jeopardize national security.
From Jurist, Jan. 30. Used with permission.
See our last report on the National Security Law.