Wed. Jun 19th, 2024

New national security law comes into force in Hong Kong

Natasha Kumar By Natasha Kumar Mar23,2024

New national security law takes effect in Hong Kong

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Hong Kongers living in Taiwan protest against the new law, Saturday March 23, 2024. One of the signs shows Jimmy Lai, former owner of the Apple Daily News, a daily newspaper closed in 2021 and one of the most famous figures of the pro-democracy movement.

Agence France-Presse

Hong Kong's new national security law came into force on Saturday, providing for life sentences for offenses such than treason and insurrection.

This text supplements the national security law imposed by Beijing in 2020 after the major demonstrations the previous year in favor of democracy in Hong Kong.

It lists several categories of offenses in addition to those punished by the 2020 text: treason, insurrection, espionage and theft of state secrets, sabotage endangering national security, sedition and external interference.

It was unanimously adopted by the Legislative Council of Hong Kong on Tuesday Kong, which does not include an opposition representative.

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The text of the law was adopted on Tuesday March 19, 2024, unanimously, by the Legislative Council of Hong Kong ( LegCo), which does not include an opposition representative.

Several Western countries, including the United States, the European Union and the United Kingdom, have expressed alarm over the new law.

US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken on Friday expressed deep concern that the law could be used to undermine rights and reduce dissenting voices, adding that it could damage Hong's reputation. Kong as a hub of international finance.

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Hong Kong leader John Lee spoke of a historic moment. According to this former police chief, this new legislation was necessary to fill the gaps left by that of 2020.

He also cited Hong Kong's constitutional responsibility to pass this law, as provided for in Article 23 of the Basic Law, the mini-Constitution that has governed this former British colony since its handover to China in 1997.

The law will enable Hong Kong to effectively prevent, prohibit and punish espionage activities, plots and traps set by foreign intelligence services, infiltration and sabotage by hostile forces, Lee said Tuesday.

It will also help prevent black violence, he said, referring to the pro-democracy protests of 2019, during which hundreds of thousands of people demanded greater autonomy from Beijing. /p>Open in full screen mode

Protesters gathered in September 2019 on the campus of the Chinese University of Hong Kong. (File photo)

The protests were harshly repressed and Beijing imposed a national security law in 2020 targeting secession, subversion, terrorism and collusion with foreign forces.

Nearly 300 people have so far been arrested in Hong Kong under the 2020 law, and dozens of politicians, Activists and other public figures have been imprisoned or forced into exile.

The text provides for penalties of up to life in prison for sabotage endangering national security, treason and insurrection, 20 years for espionage and sabotage, and 14 years for external interference.

The law also broadens the definition of the crime of sedition, dating from the British colonial era, to include incitement to hatred against Chinese communist leaders, with an aggravated penalty of up to 10 years' imprisonment.

During the 1997 handover, Hong Kong was guaranteed certain freedoms, as well as judicial and legislative autonomy for 50 years, under an agreement called One Country, Two Systems.

The new text puts an end to a large part of the legal guarantees enjoyed by Hong Kong, in order to align with the legislation of mainland China .

Mr. Lee is now empowered to create new offenses punishable by up to seven years in prison.

As with the 2020 legislation, certain offenses committed outside Hong Kong will fall within its jurisdiction.

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On June 4, 2023, Chan Po Ting, activist and leader of the League of social democrats, was arrested before being released in Causeway Bay, near Victoria Park, in Hong Kong.

The Minister of Security can impose punitive measures on activists who are abroad, including the cancellation of their passports.

Police powers have also been extended to allow people to be detained for up to 16 days without charge – up from the current 48 hours – and to prevent a suspect from meeting lawyers and communicating with other people.

Protests against the new law are expected around the world, from Australia and Canada to Britain, where a large Hong Kong diaspora is x27;is installed after 2019.

Dozens of people took part in a rally in Taipei on Saturday, some holding villain law signs and images from the newspaper pro-democracy Apple Daily, now closed.

After today, Hong Kong no longer has democracy or freedom of expression , said Leos Lee, a former Hong Kong city councilor who moved to Taiwan.

The aim of this new law is to crush the last bit of freedom left in Hong Kong, said Frances Hui, a activist based in the United States.

Natasha Kumar

By Natasha Kumar

Natasha Kumar has been a reporter on the news desk since 2018. Before that she wrote about young adolescence and family dynamics for Styles and was the legal affairs correspondent for the Metro desk. Before joining The Times Hub, Natasha Kumar worked as a staff writer at the Village Voice and a freelancer for Newsday, The Wall Street Journal, GQ and Mirabella. To get in touch, contact me through my 1-800-268-7116

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