The Hong Kong government has rejected criticism from the United Nations after four minors were sentenced to detention for abetting “armed revolution”.
The UN human rights commissioner’s office said it was “alarmed” after the four were sentenced last Saturday and called on Hong Kong to fall into line with international convention obligations.
A government spokesman, while stressing he could not comment on cases before the courts, said human rights and the provisions of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights were covered by the Beijing-imposed national security law.
“In fact, the national security law was enacted to restore the enjoyment of rights and freedoms that people in Hong Kong had been unable to enjoy during the period of serious violence between June 2019 and early 2020,” he said.
“The national security law has indeed achieved the intended effect, and has swiftly and effectively restored stability and security.”
He was speaking after UN High Commissioner for Human Rights spokeswoman Ravina Shamdasani this week said use of the national security legislation should end.
“We regret the continued application of the national security law, including against children, in spite of the clear recommendations of the Human Rights Committee,” Shamdasani said.
“We urge the authorities to bring the Hong Kong SAR’s legislation and practice fully into compliance with its international human rights obligations.”
The pro-independence group involved in the case, Returning Valiant, which is now dissolved, consisted of 20 members who referred to the organisation as “the embers of revolution”.
A total of seven group members, including five teenagers, were found to have arranged 13 street booths and press conferences and to have operated three social media accounts between January and May last year, with the goal of toppling the Beijing and Hong Kong administrations.
The five secondary school pupils, now aged between 16 and 19, either spoke in support of insurgency or distributed fliers at public events. One also delivered live broadcasts on the internet in her capacity as a part-time citizen reporter.
Wan Chung-wai, 16, Yuen Ka-him, Leung Yung-wan and Tseung Chau Ching-yu, all 17, and Kwok Man-hei, 19, admitted conspiracy to incite subversion in August and September.
Wan, who was only 15 at the time of her arrest, was the youngest defendant so far to be convicted of a national security law offence.
Judge Kwok Wai-kin imposed a training centre order on the five youngsters, under which they will be required to undergo vocational training and development programmes at a penal institution for up to three years.
Kwok ruled the teenagers had undermined the city’s stability and the safety of residents with their calls for a “bloody” uprising and all-out resistance against the authorities.
Two older people, salesman Chris Chan Yau-tsun, 26, and shopkeeper Choi Wing-kit, 21, who founded the group, were convicted of the same offence, but their cases were adjourned pending a Court of Appeal ruling on the principles regarding minimum sentences in national security cases.
Yuen and Choi also pleaded guilty to unlicensed possession of radio apparatus and possession of offensive weapons with intent, respectively.