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March 05, 2021

Statement of ABA President Patricia Lee Refo Re: Detention of 47 Hong Kong residents

WASHINGTON, March 5, 2021 – The ABA is deeply concerned about the ongoing detention of 47 permanent residents of Hong Kong on charges of conspiracy to commit subversion under the city’s National Security Law imposed on the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR) by the People’s Republic of China. The 47 were charged based on their participation in a local primary election coordinated in July 2020. 

Primary elections are a globally accepted and fundamental element of freedom of expression and electoral systems. The right to freely express oneself and to associate with others is enshrined in Article 27 of Hong Kong’s Basic Law and Articles 16 and 18 of the HKSAR’s Bill of Rights.  Furthermore, pursuant to Article 21 of Hong Kong’s Bill of Rights, every permanent resident of Hong Kong has the right to take part in public affairs, “directly or through freely chosen representatives.” These rights are also enshrined in the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights of the National Security Law.

The ABA urges the People’s Republic of China and the Chinese Communist Party to comply with its obligations under domestic and international law.

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 online. Follow the latest ABA news at and on Twitter @ABANews