Truss condemns Chinese and Hong Kong authorities for threatening to silence critics
he United Kingdom has accused authorities in China and Hong Kong of unjustified attacks on freedom of expression after a human rights organization was threatened under a “draconian” law on Security.
Foreign Secretary Liz Truss said the warning sent to UK charity Hong Kong Watch was “unjustifiable”.
The formal warning was sent to Hong Kong Watch under the National Security Act, controversial legislation which the government says breaches the joint statement signed by the UK and China that is supposed to ensure a high degree of security. autonomy to the former British colony.
In a statement, Hong Kong Watch said it had received an official warning from Hong Kong police claiming its website was potentially in violation of the law.
“This makes Hong Kong Watch one of the first foreign organizations targeted by the draconian law,” the statement said.
The letter accuses Hong Kong Watch of violating Article 29 of the National Security Law “which criminalizes collusion with foreign forces to endanger national security”.
It warns that Hong Kong Watch could face a fine of HK$100,000 (£9,793) or its chief executive Benedict Rogers could face up to three years in jail for the offence.
Mr Rogers said: “By threatening a UK-based NGO (non-governmental organisation) with financial penalties and imprisonment for simply reporting on the human rights situation in Hong Kong, this letter illustrates why the Hong Kong’s national security law is so dangerous.
Ms Truss said: “The unjustifiable action taken against the UK-based NGO Hong Kong Watch is clearly an attempt to silence those who defend human rights in Hong Kong.
“The Chinese government and Hong Kong authorities must respect the universal right to freedom of expression and uphold this right in Hong Kong in accordance with international commitments, including the Joint Statement.
“Trying to silence the global voices that stand for freedom and democracy is unacceptable and will never succeed.”
Lord Patten of Barnes, the last British Governor of Hong Kong and head of Hong Kong Watch, said: “This is another shameful example of (Russian President Vladimir) Putin’s friends in Beijing and their aides in Hong Kong trying not only to eradicate freedom of expression and information in Hong Kong but also to internationalize their campaign against evidence, freedom and honesty.