Tough penalties in Hong Kong’s new national security law

Tough penalties in Hong Kong’s new national security law
Tough penalties in Hong Kong’s new national security law

Hello and welcome to the details of Tough penalties in Hong Kong’s new national security law and now with the details

Nevin Al Sukari - Sana'a - A girl hands out yellow ribbons against the controversial Article 23 law during a protest in Hong Kong on July 9, 2003. — AFP file pic

HONG KONG, March 8 — Hong Kong today unveiled a new national security law draft bill that includes life sentences for offences such as treason and insurrection.

The homegrown bill is set to become the city’s second national security law following the one Beijing imposed in 2020 after quashing huge and sometimes violent democracy protests.

The “Safeguarding National Security Bill”, formally introduced Friday morning, lists five new categories of offences — treason, insurrection, espionage, sabotaging national security and external interference.

Authorities have proposed life imprisonment as the maximum penalty for treason, insurrection, sabotage endangering national security, and incitement of members of China’s armed forces to mutiny.

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The bill also reworks Hong Kong’s colonial-era crime of “sedition” to cover inciting hatred against China’s Communist leadership and socialist system while upping the maximum penalty from two years to seven.

Under the proposed bill, authorities could apply to the court to detain an arrested person for up to 16 days without charge and bar them from consulting with lawyers during their detention.

As with its predecessor, the new security law bill states that offences are also applicable to acts committed outside Hong Kong.

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In a section closely watched by Hong Kong’s foreign business community, the draft proposes a multipronged definition of “state secrets” that covers not only technology but “major policy decisions” and the city’s “economic and social development”.

The draft bill also criminalises the unlawful acquisition, possession and disclosure of state secrets, though it offers a “public interest” defence under specific conditions.

Hong Kong authorities have fast-tracked the bill after offering a public consultation period of one month, unveiling it nine days after the consultation ended.

The bill will be introduced at the city’s legislature Friday morning.

City leader John Lee said the city was fulfilling its “constitutional responsiblity” to create its own security law as required by Article 23 of the Basic Law, Hong Kong’s mini-constitution since its handover from Britain to China in 1997.

Lee also said it was the “general consensus” of residents that the law be passed “as soon as possible”, particularly after the protests in 2019.

The government has said it received a nearly 99 percent support rate from the 13,000 who participated in its public consultation period.

Objections and concerns on rights infringement raised by local and overseas activists as well as Western countries were rejected by Hong Kong officials as “deliberate smearing”.

Critics say the existing security law has already eviscerated Hong Kong’s political opposition and civil society, with pro-democracy politicians and activists jailed, forced into exile or silenced.

Nearly 300 people have been arrested and more than 170 charged since the Beijing-imposed security law came in force. — AFP

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