China has introduced a new security law in Hong Kong that has created different views of human rights activities, institutions, and people not only in China but even around the world.
While many don’t even know what the law implies, a clue can be derived from the way it makes headlines. The new law is believed to have fundamentally changed the area’s legal system.
The law introduced new crimes that include penalties of up to life imprisonment. It will give mainland security personnel the freedom to legally operate in Hong Kong with impunity. The law grants Beijing far-reaching powers it has never had before.
The reason the law is making headlines is because of the worrying aspects that many legal experts and analysts have cited.
NPC and its team of legal experts from the United States and Hong Kong said on the website that the criminal provisions of the law are broad enough to encompass part of what was previously considered a protected language.
Anyone who understands the details of the new law will agree that Article 29 may be an example of this broad wording.
The article says that anyone who conspires with foreigners to provoke hatred of the Chinese government or Hong Kong authorities could have committed a crime.
During a media briefing on Wednesday, Hong Kong Justice Minister Teresa Cheng when asked to define exactly what the provision meant and said she could not give a clear answer.
The other worrying part of the law is contained in Article 55, which contains a vague language. It grants mainland Chinese security forces the right to investigate some national security cases that are complex, serious, or difficult. According to the NPC, these words are very subjective and malleable.
Various human rights organizations have pointed out that the law appears to undermine the protections previously offered to the accused.
Article 41 allows court proceedings to be kept secret and Article 46 court proceedings are conducted without a jury.
In the article, 44 judges can be handpicked by Hong Kong’s chief executive, who is directly responsible for Beijing.
Besides, Article 42 of the law removes the presumption that suspects are given bail. The same provision also seems to indicate that there is no time limit on how long suspects can be detained. It just means that cases should be dealt with on time.
In Article 56, all cases, from investigation to judgment to punishment, can easily be handed over to the mainland authorities.
And in Article 38, foreigners outside of Hong Kong can be legally prosecuted.
Regardless of whether you think the legislation is necessary or not, it is impossible to deny its importance. As Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam put it, this is a turning point. Zhang Xiaoming from the Chinese Office for Hong Kong and Macau Affairs said Wednesday that the law would help restore the stability of the territory. It will bring Hong Kong more into line with mainland laws, procedures, and practices.