In February 2024, The Rights Practice made a submission to the government of Hong Kong in response to their public consultation on proposed Article 23 national security legislation. Our submission highlights our reservations with many of the proposed legislative changes and the expansive interpretation of national security and the exaggerated threat perception on which they are based.

We are concerned that proposed Article 23 legislation will weaken Hong Kong’s constitutional obligations, under the Basic Law and the Bill of Rights Ordinance, to respect and protect all human rights for Hong Kong citizens. As an overseas based organisation we are concerned, in particular, that the proposed offence of “external interference” (chapter 7) which is very broadly conceived, and is likely to have a detrimental impact on international engagement with Hong Kong.

We also have serious reservations with proposed changes to the offence of “seditious intention” (chapter 4) which, we fear, will, as currently conceived, undermine freedom of expression. We also note with concern plans to apply provisions in Article 23 legislation on an extraterritorial basis (chapter 8) and the measures to prioritise efficiency over due process and fair trials suggested by comments in chapter 9.