June 19, 2020 / 12:24 PM / 25 days ago

Hong Kong security law must protect basic freedoms - U.N. rights chief

FILE PHOTO: High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet speaks during an urgent debate on current racially inspired human rights violations, systematic racism, police brutality against people of African descent and violence against peaceful protests at the High-Level Segment of the 43rd session of the Human Rights Council, at the European headquarters of the United Nations in Geneva, Switzerland June 17, 2020. Martial Trezzini/Pool via REUTERS

GENEVA (Reuters) - Any new national security laws imposed on Hong Kong “must fully comply with China’s human rights obligations” and international treaties protecting civil and political freedoms, the top U.N. human rights official said on Friday.

The draft legislation specifies the definition of four crimes and sets out punishments: separatist activity, state subversion, terrorist activity, and collusion with foreign forces, the official Xinhua news agency reported on Thursday.

Michelle Bachelet, U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights, said in a statement: “Any law on national security should be clear in scope and definition, and only permit restrictions to human rights that are strictly necessary and proportionate. There should be meaningful legislative and judicial oversight of the implementation of such legislation.” 

Her office remains “engaged” with China on this matter and will continue to monitor the situation closely, she said.

Reporting by Stephanie Nebehay; Editing by Catherine Evans

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