New National Security Law in Hong Kong will criminalise all protest activities including disruption of MTR service, damaging of public facilities and funding of illegal protests

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1st July 2020 – (Hong Kong) The National Security Act of Hong Kong SAR was gazetted and took effect last night at 11pm. There are 66 articles in 6 chapters, which have detailed regulations under the central and local institutions, crimes and penalties. Many of the provisions are directed against the last year’s anti-extradition protest activities, such as blocking the MTR service, damaging traffic lights, causing disruption at the airport and those who fetched protesters from clash scene. All these activities are now clearly covered in the new Act.

The legislation makes it clear that it is illegal to request foreign governments to exert pressure on the Hong Kong government and the central government. According to relevant regulations, even if the protesters claim their actions are justified, they may have the opportunity to fall within the legal threshold and commit serious crimes such as participating in terrorist activities and subverting state power.

Article 24 of Chapter 3, Section 3, “Terrorist Crimes” of the law states that “to coerce the Central People’s Government, the Government of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region or an international organisation, or to intimidate the public in an attempt to realise a political claim” is an offence. The offences include “damaging vehicles, transportation facilities, electrical equipment, gas equipment or other flammable and explosive equipment”. Therefore, it would be illegal to destroy the transportation facilities or its system, thereby intimidating the Hong Kong government, or even the central government, etc. to reach its political position, and offenders may be sentenced to 3 to 10 years’ imprisonment. If they cause public and private property to suffer significant losses, they will be sentenced to life imprisonment, or more than 10 years in prison.

Article 26 of the National Security Law on “Terrorist Crimes” sets out “to provide training, weapons, information, funds, materials, labour services, transportation, technology, or venue support and assistance for terrorist organisations, intimidating activities, and terrorist implementation. The section also includes manufacturing, illegal possession of explosive, toxic, radioactive, infectious disease pathogens and other substances in preparation for other forms of terrorist activities. If the demonstration is officially designated as “terrorist activity”, those who are involved in the transportation of materials to demonstration sites, and even remote donations may also be regarded as providing “funds”, “materials”, “labour services”, “transportation”, “assistance” and “convenience” to terrorists. Offenders may be sentenced to a maximum of 5 years in prison. In serious cases, they be can be sentenced to 5 to 10 years in prison, as well as fines or confiscation of property.

If the relevant conduct also constitutes other crimes, heavier penalties will be applied.

Article 29 of Section 3 of Chapter 3 of the National Security Law covers crimes of collusion with foreign or foreign forces endangering national security.

For stealing, spying, buying up, or illegally providing state secrets or intelligence related to national security for foreign or overseas institutions, organizations, and personnel; requesting foreign or overseas institutions, organizations, and personnel to implement, and collaborating with foreign or overseas institutions, organizations, and organizations 2. Persons conspiracy to commit, or directly or indirectly accept the instruction, control, subsidy or other forms of support from foreign or overseas institutions, organizations, personnel to carry out one of the following acts are criminals:

(1) Waging war on the People’s Republic of China, or threatening it with force or force, causing serious harm to the sovereignty, unity and territorial integrity of the People’s Republic of China;

(2) Serious obstruction of the formulation and implementation of laws and policies by the Government of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region or the Central People’s Government and possible serious consequences;

(3) Manipulation and destruction of the elections of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region and may have serious consequences;

(4) Sanctions, blockades or other hostile actions against the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region or the People’s Republic of China;

(5) Inducing hatred towards the Central People’s Government or the Government of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region by various illegal means and may have serious consequences.

Those who commit the crimes in the preceding paragraph shall be sentenced to fixed-term imprisonment of more than three years and less than ten years; if the crime is serious, they shall be sentenced to life imprisonment or more than ten years.

Overseas institutions, organizations and personnel involved in the first paragraph of this article shall be convicted and sentenced as a joint crime. Once convicted, the offender may be sentenced to 3 to 10 years in prison. If the crime is serious, the offender shall be sentenced to life imprisonment or more than 10 years in prison.

The controversial 612 Humanitarian Fund which was set up on 15th June 2019 to provide legal expenditure, medical expenses, psychological counselling and other related assistance for protesters during anti-extradition protests may fall under the ambit of the new legislation and many anti-government political activists such as Jimmy Lai, Martin Lee, Anson Chan, Albert Ho, Joshua Wong and Nathan Law etc. will be investigated under Article 29 of the National Security Law.

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