AOHKMP welcomes UN Human Rights Council session addressing press freedom and National Security Law in Hong Kong

AOHKMP welcomes UN Human Rights Council session addressing press freedom and National Security Law in Hong Kong

The Association of Overseas Hong Kong Media Professionals (AOHKMP) has welcomed the United Nations Human Rights Council’s (UNHRC) 52nd session on 15 March, which addressed Jimmy Lai’s false imprisonment and the abuse of the National Security Law (NSL) by the Chinese Communist Party and Hong Kong authorities to suppress free media.

Lai, the 75-year-old founder of the now-shuttered Apple Daily newspaper, is facing up to life in prison for “colluding with foreign forces”, a crime under the security law Beijing imposed on Hong Kong to quash huge democracy protests in 2019. Lai is already in jail serving a string of convictions related to his involvement in protests.

The HKSAR government issued a statement strongly opposing foreign interference with judicial proceedings concerning Lai’s case, and criticized the international legal team for Lai and his son Sebastian for undermining the Hong Kong National Security Law (NSL) and the judicial system of the HKSAR.

However, the AOHKMP pointed out that both the UN Human Rights Committee on July 2022 and UN Committee on Economic, Social, and Cultural Rights on March 2023 expressed deep concerns about the overly broad interpretation of the NSL, believing that it has de facto abolished Hong Kong’s judicial independence.

At the UN meeting, the International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) called for the withdrawal of the charges against Lai and other journalists and media workers, and urged the Special Reporting Committee to pay attention to their cases.

Hong Kong’s ranking in the 2022 Press Freedom Index compiled by Reporters Without Borders (RSF) has dropped 68 places to 148th, falling to the same level as some totalitarian countries. Hong Kong fell to 88th place in the Global Democracy Index of the Economist Intelligence Unit, and the Varieties of Democracy (V-Dem) report ranked Hong Kong as the 20th least democratic in the world out of 179 countries or regions.

The AOHKMP is urgently calling attention to the escalating use of the law to crack down on press freedom, as news reporting that does not follow the government line has now become a criminal offense in Hong Kong. Journalism has become a high-risk activity for those seeking to report freely and fairly.

The AOHKMP calls for an immediate halt to these trials and for the Hong Kong regime to cease its attacks on the media, urging the international community to consider the credibility of the judicial system that claims to be safeguarding Hong Kong’s role as an international financial center.

The AOHKMP, launched in October 2022, is an association of media professionals who have worked in Hong Kong and are now living overseas, where, unlike their colleagues still in the territory, they are free to defend press freedom.

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