Freedom fears rejected in law push
The national security law strikes a balance between security and human rights, says Secretary for Justice Paul Lam Ting-kwok, brushing aside concerns that the law imposed in 2020 undermines freedoms.
Speaking at a ceremony ahead of the second edition of NSL Chronicles, a program produced by RTHK that explains the law, Lam told skeptics to set aside preconceived or subjective views and study the law and related precedents.
"These people need to ask themselves whether the law and its implementation breaches the rule of law," he said.
Beijing passed the law in June 2020, bypassing the Legislative Council, criminalizing secession, subversion, terrorist acts and collusion with foreign forces.
"The NSL strikes a balance. On the one hand, we have to safeguard national security - this is very important. But on the other, we have full respect for human rights and freedom. Those guilty of national security offenses have tipped that balance," he added.
RTHK will begin airing the program on both TV and radio this weekend.
Security chief Chris Tang Ping-keung said the law does not put people at risk of a wrongful prosecution, as its parameters are clear. "Ordinary citizens are most definitely not going to break the law," he said.
Tang said a total of 250 arrests have been made in the almost three years since the law was passed, 151 of whom have been charged by the end of last month.
For the trials that have ended, all 71 defendants were found guilty. "This shows the law only affects a small group of people, and that arrests and prosecutorial work were treated very seriously for these results to have been achieved," Tang said.
Of those 71 defendants, 29 were convicted under the law, a Security Bureau spokeswoman said.
Director of Public Prosecutions Maggie Yang Mei-kei said there are different challenges to be faced every day, but prosecutors must administer justice in accordance with the law."
"This belief will never change. We will fairly handle every case and fairly treat each defendant," said Yang.