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Hong Kong

    July 04, 2018

    In response to the ruling by Hong Kong’s Court of Final Appeal upholding as unlawful the government’s refusal to issue a dependant visa to a woman in a same-sex civil partnership, Jan Wetzel, Senior Legal Advisor at Amnesty International, said: 

    “This judgment is a milestone for Hong Kong and a watershed moment for the rights of LGBTI people across Asia. It recognizes that same-sex couples legally married or in civil partnerships overseas should be able to live with their partners in the same way as opposite-sex couples.

    “The Court of Final Appeal has sent a clear message that the government must respect the right to equality in its policies, including when it comes to immigration. 

    "The government must now follow up and end the discrimination same-sex couples face in all walks of life. It must also swiftly introduce comprehensive legislation against discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation, gender identity or intersex status. No one should experience discrimination because of who they are, or who they love.” 

    Background

    February 22, 2018
    Amnesty International publishes State of the World’s Human Rights report for 2017 to 2018 “Last year our world was immersed in crises, with prominent leaders offering us a nightmarish vision of a society blinded by hatred and fear. This emboldened those who promote bigotry, but it inspired far more people to campaign for a more hopeful future,” says Salil Shetty, head of Amnesty International

    The world is reaping the terrifying consequences of hate-filled rhetoric that threatens to normalize massive discrimination against marginalized groups, Amnesty International warned today as it launched its annual assessment of human rights.

    Nevertheless, the organization found that a growing movement of both first-time and seasoned activists campaigning for social justice provides real hope of reversing the slide towards oppression.

    The report, The State of the World’s Human Rights, covers 159 countries and delivers the most comprehensive analysis of the state of human rights in the world today.

    February 06, 2018

    In response to Hong Kong’s Court of Final Appeal overturning the jail sentences for three prominent pro-democracy activists, Mabel Au, Director of Amnesty International Hong Kong, commented:

    “The Court of Final Appeal has today corrected an injustice. The government’s vengeful pursuit of harsher sentences led to the trio being jailed and it is right this has now been overturned.

    “All politically motivated prosecutions aimed at silencing those promoting democracy in Hong Kong must be dropped. The government’s unyielding stance is having a chilling effect on the human rights to peaceful assembly and freedom of expression.”

    Background

    In August 2017, Hong Kong’s Court of Appeal handed Joshua Wong, Alex Chow and Nathan Law between six and eight months in prison for their roles in a demonstration that helped spark the city’s 2014 pro-democracy Umbrella Movement. The trio were released on bail in October and November 2017 pending their appeal.

    September 26, 2017

    The Hong Kong government must drop prosecutions aimed at having a chilling effect on freedom of expression in the city, Amnesty International said ahead of the third anniversary of the 2014 pro-democracy Umbrella Movement.

    Three years on from the start of the unprecedented 79-day protest in late 2014, scores of protesters, who were arrested for their involvement in the largely peaceful protests, remain in legal limbo, uncertain if they will face charges.

    “Three years since the Umbrella Movement protests, a cloud of uncertainty hangs over Hong Kong. The government’s stance is having a chilling effect on peaceful assembly and freedom of expression,” said Mabel Au, Director of Amnesty International Hong Kong.

    “The government must drop prosecutions which have the effect of deterring people from participating in peaceful protests, particularly on sensitive issues such as Hong Kong’s autonomy and democracy. The authorities’ continued obfuscation has left protesters in legal limbo and is detrimental to human rights in Hong Kong.”

    Chilling effect

    August 17, 2017
    The Hong Kong authorities’ relentless pursuit of jail terms for three leaders of the pro-democracy movement is a vindictive attack on freedom of expression and peaceful assembly, Amnesty International said.   On Thursday, Hong Kong’s Court of Appeal handed Joshua Wong, Alex Chow and Nathan Law between six and eight months in prison for their roles in a demonstration that helped spark the city’s 2014 pro-democracy Umbrella Movement. Prosecutors pursued harsher punishments for the trio, after they were originally given non-custodial sentences at their first trial a year ago.   “The relentless and vindictive pursuit of student leaders using vague charges smacks of political payback by the authorities,” said Mabel Au, Director of Amnesty International Hong Kong.   “The real danger to the rights of freedom of expression and peaceful assembly in Hong Kong is the authorities’ continued persecution of prominent democracy activists. Prosecutions aimed at deterring participation in peaceful protests must be dropped.”  
    July 14, 2017
      Responding to a Hong Kong court decision today to disqualify four pro-democracy lawmakers for failing to sincerely take the oath of office, Mabel Au, Director of Amnesty International Hong Kong, commented:   “Today’s decision confirms the Hong Kong government’s agenda to silence and effectively punish any speech critical of the present political system, wherever it may occur, even within the legislature. It is the latest damaging sign that expressing political opinions that challenge the status quo are no longer tolerated. By bringing these cases, the Hong Kong government only reinforces the impression that they are mere puppets of Beijing.”
    June 29, 2017
    President Xi to visit Hong Kong to mark 20th anniversary of handover to China. Reports of freedom of expression restricted to avoid “embarrassing” criticism of Chinese government during President Xi’s visit.

    Hong Kong’s political leaders must show they are prepared to fiercely resist pressure from President Xi Jinping to further erode human rights in the city, Amnesty International said, as the Chinese President arrived to mark the 20th anniversary of Hong Kong’s handover to China.

    “Hong Kong’s political leaders need to step up and show they won’t bend to Beijing’s pressure. They must be prepared to defend the city’s cherished human rights and freedoms and the rule of law that were guaranteed as part of the handover deal,” said Mabel Au, Director of Amnesty International Hong Kong.

    Carrie Lam, who will be sworn in as Hong Kong’s new chief executive this weekend, has so far shown no appetite to stand up to Beijing when it comes to human rights.

    There are reports banners critical of the Chinese government will be removed by police during President’s Xi visit to avoid causing “embarrassment”.

    April 27, 2017
    The arrest of nine Hong Kong pro-democracy activists is the latest sign the authorities are intent on punishing dissenting voices about the future political status of the city, Amnesty International said. Police arrested the nine people involved in Hong Kong’s pro-democracy movement on Thursday morning. They are reported to face charges of public disorder and unlawful assembly for their involvement in a largely peaceful protest last November against a central government ruling on Hong Kong’s Basic Law.   "The repeated use of vague charges against prominent figures in Hong Kong's pro-democracy movement reeks of an orchestrated and retaliatory campaign by the authorities to punish those that advocate for democracy in Hong Kong,” said Mabel Au, Director of Amnesty International Hong Kong.   “The Hong Kong government should be protecting freedom of expression and peaceful assembly but instead it appears intent on intimidating people who are challenging the authorities. Arrests and prosecutions aimed at shutting down participation in peaceful protests must stop.”  
    March 31, 2017
    The Chinese authorities’ relentless attack on human rights activists continues as two supporters of Hong Kong’s 2014 pro-democracy protests became the latest to be convicted, Amnesty International said, as it called for their immediate and unconditional release.   A court in Foshan city, southern China, on Friday sentenced women’s rights activist Su Changlan to three years in prison for “inciting subversion of state power”. The court also sentenced fellow activist Chen Qitang to four-and-a-half years in prison on the same charge. Both have been detained since October 2014 after they expressed support for Hong Kong’s pro-democracy protests, and time served will count towards their sentences.    “It is completely callous for the Chinese authorities to condemn Su Changlan and Chen Qitang to even one more day in jail,” said Patrick Poon, China Researcher at Amnesty International.  
    March 27, 2017

    Freedom of expression and peaceful assembly in Hong Kong are under a sustained attack, Amnesty International said, after police informed several leaders of the 2014 pro-democracy Umbrella Movement today that they will face charges.

    The news came a day after Carrie Lam was selected as the city's new chief executive by a 1,200-strong committee largely made of political appointees handpicked by Beijing. Those informed by police that they will face public order charges include student leaders Tommy Cheung and Chung Yiu-wa, legislators Tanya Chan and Shiu Ka-chun and Professor Benny Tai, Professor Chan Kin-man and Reverend Chu Yiu-ming, who launched the Occupy Central civil disobedience campaign.

    In response Mabel Au, Director of Amnesty International Hong Kong, commented:

    "The ongoing targeting of prominent figures of the Umbrella Movement is a blow to the rights of freedom of expression and peaceful assembly in Hong Kong. This vindictiveness shows contempt for well-established freedoms in Hong Kong and will only lead to more political tensions.

    July 21, 2016

    The Hong Kong authorities’ prosecution of three pro-democracy student leaders sends a chilling warning for freedom of expression and peaceful assembly in the city, Amnesty International said today, after Joshua Wong, Alex Chow and Nathan Law were found guilty for their roles in events that triggered 2014’s Umbrella Movement.

    The city’s Eastern Magistrates’ Court found Joshua Wong and Alex Chow guilty of “taking part in an unlawful assembly”. Joshua Wong was acquitted on a second charge of “inciting others to take part in an unlawful assembly”, but Nathan Law was found guilty on the same charge. Sentencing was adjourned until 15 August. 

    “The prosecution of student leaders on vague charges smacks of political payback by the authorities,” said Mabel Au, Director of Amnesty International Hong Kong.

    “The continued persecution of prominent figures of the Umbrella Movement is a blow to freedom of expression and peaceful assembly in Hong Kong.”

    February 10, 2015

    The guilty verdict against a Hong Kong employer for the extreme abuse she inflicted on two migrant domestic workers must act as a wake-up call for the authorities to stop the widespread exploitation of tens of thousands of women, said Amnesty International.

    Law Wan-tung was found guilty by the District Court in Hong Kong of multiple counts of abuse against Indonesians Erwiana Sulistyaningsih and Tutik Lestari Ningsih. She was found not guilty of two charges of abuse and threatening behaviour against another Indonesian woman, Nurhasanah.

    Law is due to be sentenced on 27 February and could face a lengthy prison term.

    “The guilty verdict is a damning indictment of the government’s failure to reform the system that traps women in a cycle of abuse and exploitation,” said Norma Kang Muico, Asia-Pacific Migrant Rights Researcher at Amnesty International.

    “The Hong Kong authorities can no longer bury their heads in the sand and dismiss horrific abuses as isolated incidents. Concrete action to end laws and regulations that foster such horrific abuse is long overdue.”

    November 28, 2014

    With thousands of pro-democracy protesters expected to take to Hong Kong’s streets again over the weekend, the city’s police chief must urgently stamp out any arbitrary and excessive use of force by police officers, Amnesty International said.

    The past two days have seen major police operations to disperse protesters from the Mong Kok area of the city marred by incidents of unjustifiable force against protesters, bystanders and journalists.

    “The heavy-handed approach by police violates the protesters’ rights to freedom of expression and peaceful assembly, and risks exacerbating an already tense situation,” said Mabel Au, Director of Amnesty International Hong Kong.

    “Police Commissioner Andy Tsang must not turn a blind eye to the use of excessive force by his officers. There needs to be an unequivocal message from the top that any officer violating human rights will be held to account.”

    October 20, 2014

    Last month Yvonne Leung Lai Kwong, a 21-year-old undergraduate and student union president, found herself at the forefront of the pro-democracy demonstrations in Hong Kong. She gives her insight into the largely youthful protests, which at their peak saw up to 100,000 people take to the streets.

    I wouldn’t say I am an organizer of the demonstrations – there is no one organizer here. But young people and students have definitely been the primary initiators.

    I fell into this role quite unexpectedly. I first ran for students’ union president eight months ago with the intention of bringing students together and contributing where I was needed. I never expected events to unfold as they have.

    October 15, 2014

    Hong Kong police officers involved in the beating and kicking of a detained pro-democracy protester on Wednesday must face justice, Amnesty International said.

    Local TV news footage shows social worker Ken Tsang Kin Chiu being taken away by six police officers in the early hours of Wednesday, his hands tied behind his back.  The police officers then appear to carry Tsang around a corner and put him on the ground. The publicly available video shows that some officers proceed repeatedly to kick and punch Tsang, who is seen curled-up in a ball, while other police officers stood by.

    Amnesty International spoke to a lawyer assisting Tsang who confirmed the details of the attack, and that the victim was taken by police to a local hospital to receive medical treatment. Police have since said they will conduct an investigation into the incident.

    “This appears to be a vicious attack against a detained man who posed no threat to the police. Any investigation into this incident must be carried out promptly and all individuals involved in unlawful acts must be prosecuted,” said Mabel Au, Director of Amnesty International Hong Kong.

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