WASHINGTON, May 1, 2020 – The American Bar Association is deeply concerned by the arrest of 15 prominent pro-democracy and rule of law advocates in Hong Kong on April 18, 2020, purportedly for taking part in peaceful but “unauthorized assemblies” in August and October of 2019. Those arrested include party leaders and lawmakers, as well as two prominent barristers, Martin Lee QC and Margaret Ng QC, and solicitor Albert Ho, all of whom have previously served on Hong Kong’s Legislative Council. All of those arrested have been recognized for promoting the protection of rule of law, democracy, and human rights in Hong Kong. These arrests appear to violate domestic and international law and threaten to undermine the “One Country, Two Systems” policy that has afforded Hong Kong citizens with these basic rights and freedoms.
Equally troubling is that these arrests follow other developments that seem to contravene Hong Kong’s autonomy, including the recent declaration by the PRC’s Liaison Office of the Central People’s Government (LOCPG) stating that it and the Hong Kong and Macau Affairs Office have the right to exercise supervision over affairs regarding Hong Kong and Macau. The statement of the LOCPG contradicts Article 22 and past statements of the Hong Kong Government on the matter. This unprecedented assertion of such authority raises questions and concerns about the potential for further encroachment on Hong Kong’s democratic and legal institutions.
The ABA urges authorities in Hong Kong to release those arrested for their involvement in peaceful assemblies, and calls upon authorities in Hong Kong and Beijing to comply with their obligations under domestic and international law and to reaffirm the commitments to rule of law and human rights provided for under the Basic Law. The ABA reaffirms its policy urging the United States Government to use its influence in encouraging the continuance and growth of democratic institutions and rule of law in Hong Kong.
The ABA is the largest voluntary association of lawyers in the world. As the national voice of the legal profession, the ABA works to improve the administration of justice, promotes programs that assist lawyers and judges in their work, accredits law schools, provides continuing legal education, and works to build public understanding around the world of the importance of the rule of law. View our privacy statement on line. Follow the latest ABA news at www.americanbar.org/news and on Twitter @ABANews.