EU annual report says rights in Hong Kong waning News
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EU annual report says rights in Hong Kong waning

The European Union (EU) claimed on Friday that Hong Kong experienced declines in autonomy, democracy, and fundamental freedoms in its 2022 report on Hong Kong . The EU also cast doubt on China’s commitment to its  ‘One Country, Two Systems’ principle. The Hong Kong government released a statement in response on Saturday, countering that claims in the report are baseless attacks, slanders, and smears.

The EU’s report gave an overview of the political and economic developments in Hong Kong over 2022, including the election of Chief Executive John Lee Ka-Chiu following Hong Kong’s  2021 electoral overhaul, the implementation of the region’s stringent ‘dynamic zero-COVID policy’ and the enforcement of Hong Kong’s national security laws.

The Hong Kong government criticised the report for failing to acknowledge that the national security laws have restored Hong Kongers’ livelihoods and rights and freedoms. However, the EU reported Hong Kong’s economy has yet to return to its 2018 level, prior to the pandemic and 2019 protests.

The government also reiterated that its sedition law and national security laws are fully consistent with the Hong Kong Bill of Rights and align with international legal principles. The EU’s report listed recent developments related to those laws, including the mass trial of 47 activists and the government’s detention of the defendants since January 2021, the trial of media tycoon Jimmy Lai, and the arrest of the trustees of the 612 Humanitarian Relief Fund. The report included international responses to the implementation of national security laws in Hong Kong. One response from the United Nations Human Rights Committee called upon Hong Kong to repeal the laws and to refrain from applying the laws.

The EU also reported that Hong Kong’s 2021 election overhaul resulted in an unprecedented one-candidacy Chief Executive election. The Hong Kong government defended the reform, claiming that it was successful in ensuring that only patriots are eligible to run for election. The report also addressed discrimination against foreign housekeepers, human trafficking and the rights of the LGBTQ+ community.