Thursday, 14 April 2016

US Report says Hong Kong's Freedoms Declining

The US State Department has observed a decline in freedoms in Hong Kong
The US State Department has issued its latest report on human rights practices around the world and notes a fall in freedoms in Hong Kong.

Compiled by the State Department's Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labor, the annual document called Country Reports on Human Rights Practices, and Hong Kong is reported as a section under China.

The report cites the missing booksellers case as a concern
In it, the report mentions the five missing booksellers, saying that "credible reports" point to the involvement of "mainland security officials" in the disappearance of five booksellers who disappeared between October and December in Hong Kong and Thailand.

The report claims "credible reports gave rise to widespread suspicions" that mainland security officials were involved in their disappearance and that the incident "has raised concerns about the activities of mainland security forces in Hong Kong".

In addition, it cited "international and local media reports in late 2014", suggesting that mainland's Ministry of State Security "deployed operatives in Hong Kong to surveil critics of the central government's policies".

Another is rejecting Johannes Chan's appointment at HKU
This is not new, but interesting the report points this out now, and says targets included pro-democracy figures, activists, lawyers, academics, businessmen and religious leaders. "In one reported case, police arrested men alleged to have been part of a ministry surveillance team that was following a pro-democracy legislator, but released them shortly thereafter," the report says.

In response, the Hong Kong government said law enforcement officers outside the special administrative region did not have authority to enforce laws locally unless properly authorized.

We're not talking about enforcing local laws -- we're talking about mainland agents coming to the city and doing outright surveillance for information gathering. Is there something in the Basic Law about that?

The report also cites concerns for academic freedom when the University of Hong Kong rejected the appointment of law professor Johannes Chan Man-mun to a senior managerial post because of his close ties with Benny Tai Yiu-ting, a co-founder of the Occupy Central Movement.

Chan was rejected due to his ties with Benny Tai (above)
In addition, there are observations in the report that the city has declined in its position in the 2015 World Press Freedom Index and verbal and physical attacks on journalists, including the firebombing last year of former Apple Daily boss Jimmy Lai Chee-ying and the 2014 stabbing of former Ming Pao editor Kevin Lau Chun-to.

At least someone is closely observing what's going on in Hong Kong and reporting it... but will something be done about it?

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