China: Disqualification of Hong Kong lawmakers deals another blow to rule of law

12 November 2020, 21:06 UTC |

Responding to the disqualification of four opposition members of Hong Kong’s Legislative Council (LegCo) on “national security” grounds, Amnesty International’s Asia-Pacific Regional Director Yamini Mishra said:

“Today’s disqualification of four pro-democracy Hong Kong politicians under the pretext of ‘national security’ is yet another example of the Chinese central government’s campaign to silence dissent in the city by any means.

Yamini Mishra, Asia-Pacific Regional Director Amnesty International

“Using a framework laid out in Beijing and executed by the Hong Kong government, these lawmakers have been banished from the city’s legislature for daring to espouse views that the ruling authorities don’t want to hear.

“Once again, Hong Kong has allowed its laws and its legislature to be bypassed as Beijing makes up the rules as it goes along. Bulldozing through arbitrary decisions via the Chinese government makes a mockery of the rule of law.

“This is a politically motivated attempt to legitimize repression of opposition legislators. Ultimately, it is a move that intensifies the chilling effect on the freedoms of expression, association and participation in the political process in Hong Kong.

“Pro-democracy lawmakers and their supporters must be allowed to meaningfully participate in the political process. The authorities should allow all disqualified LegCo members to challenge the decision in court and let the legal process play out.”

Background

China’s National People’s Congress Standing Committee (NPCSC) passed a resolution on Wednesday that set out four criteria to disqualify Hong Kong lawmakers.

According to the state media Xinhua News Agency, lawmakers will lose their seats once they are ruled to have promoted or supported Hong Kong independence, refused to acknowledge China’s rule over Hong Kong, sought intervention by foreign powers in Hong Kong affairs or engaged in acts that jeopardize national security.

The decision is retrospective and, soon after the NPCSC decision was announced, the Hong Kong government directly disqualified opposition lawmakers Alvin Yeung, Dennis Kwok, Kwok Ka-ki and Kenneth Leung, without any further formal judicial process.

The four had been barred from running in the September 2020 election, later postponed until 2021, for “soliciting intervention by a foreign government”.

Amnesty International is a global human rights movement, independent of any government, political ideology or economic interest. Raising concerns about human rights violations against individual candidates, members or supporters of a political party or advocates of a particular political position does not imply that Amnesty International supports that party or candidate's platform.