The Standing Committee of the National People's Assembly of China ratified this Tuesday the controversial Hong Kong security law and life sentences are still on the table, the media in the semi-autonomous Chinese city said.
Sources quoted by the South China Morning Post (SCMP) and public broadcaster RTHK reported that the law was ratified this morning during the Standing Committee meeting, with legislation due to enter into force on Wednesday, July 1, when the transfer of British sovereignty to Chinese sovereignty occurred in 1997.
The ANP will now be discussing the insertion of the law in Annex III of the Basic Law of Hong Kong, considered the “mini-constitution” of the semi-autonomous city, and would include life sentences for “acts of secession, subversion, terrorism and collusion with foreign forces for jeopardize national security ”.
The SCMP added that the law was ratified with the unanimous vote of 162 members of the Standing Committee and that the state news agency Xinhua will provide "more details" about the content of the new law.
For its part, Hong Kong chief executive Carrie Lam refused to answer questions related to the law until it is passed and appears in Annex III for promulgation by Hong Kong.
“It would be inappropriate to answer any questions about the law at this time. All I can say is that when it is approved, we will do our best to explain how it is implemented and how it is applied ”, he stressed.
A great “threat”
The non-governmental organization Amnesty International said on Tuesday in a statement that the passage of the law represents a major “threat” to human rights in Hong Kong and that “from now on, China will have the power to impose its laws against anyone who is suspected of committing a crime. ”
"The speed and secrecy with which China adopted this legislation increases the fear that Beijing has created a weapon of repression to use against government critics, including people who only express their views peacefully," said the head of the organization. for China, Joshua Rosenzweig. He adds that Beijing's aim is to "rule Hong Kong out of fear" and that the law could end up punishing candidates from the pro-democracy movement who run for the Hong Kong Legislative Council next September.
The text the Chinese legislature is working on is still unknown, but the SCMP cited two sources explaining that the law would include life sentences for “acts of secession, subversion, terrorism and conspiracy with foreign forces to compromise national security. ”.
RTHK, on the other hand, cited sources indicating that the maximum penalty for crimes such as secession is fixed in prison sentences “much higher” than ten years, even though there is no mention that the law has retroactive effect.
The international community, with the United States and the European Union highlighted, in addition to several NGOs have expressed more than once the fear that the law will serve to silence critical voices in Hong Kong, after a year of protests in the former British colony.
Two weeks ago, a group of 86 organizations, including Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch, argued that China's national security law should be abandoned because it violently attacks Hong Kong's human rights and freedoms.
The law enforcement in Hong Kong was approved by Beijing on 28 May at the close of the annual session of the National People's Assembly.
The document came after repeated warnings by the Chinese communist power against dissent in Hong Kong, shaken in 2019 by seven months of demonstrations in defense of democratic reforms and almost always marked by clashes with the police, which led to the arrest of more than nine thousand people. .