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Hong Kong Journalists And Lawyers Working To Meet New Security Law

Journalists and lawyers operating in Hong Kong were thrown for a loop with the recently implemented national security law from the mainland. The new national security law is controversial, due to overly broad terms and the appointment of a party hardliner to lead a new government security agency.

The person who’ll be in charge of the new government security agency, which can have security agents from the mainland operating in Hong Kong without restrictions thanks to the new law, is Zheng Yanxiong, known for the handling of pro-democracy protests in the mainland.

The law’s primary target was the pro-democracy protests that have popped up in mainland China, which have been going on since 2019, but the problem with the new legislation, as noted by those who actually went to check it out, is that it’s far too broad, leaving people in Hong Kong wondering if their daily work puts them at risk under its terms.

The UN’s human rights office looked at the development to check it out, and echoed similar sentiments, saying that the new national security legislation from the mainland is ‘vague and overly broad’.

Notably, no one operating in Hong Kong had even laid eyes on the law, which is aimed at secession, subversion, terrorism, and colluding with foreign forces, until it was actually implemented, which happened at 11pm on July 2, 2020; a Tuesday.

As a result, journalists and lawyers who are operating in Hong Kong, particularly those that cover the pro-democracy movement, are considering their options, with some considering leaving the country outright.

Hong Kong Free Press Editor Tom Grundy stated that they’re working on ways to make sure that they stay operational and to keep sources safe, noting that they expect legal and bureaucratic terrorism to come their way.

An anonymous Hong Kong human rights lawyer stated that many in their field are afraid to talk to the international press or NGOs, due to the large scope of the provisions in the new law, which threw into doubt the validity of legal privilege in relation to NSL cases in Hong Kong.

This lawyer noted that the law’s terms could allow police to search any premises, and demand information from any person regarding national security crimes, all without allowing either carve-out for lawyers or legal privilege.

They stated that this will lead to Hong Kong being like the mainland, where defence lawyers have to worry about getting arrested just for defending clients.

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