China and Hong Kong: Situation of political dissidents, particularly students, and treatment by People's Republic of China (PRC) authorities (2020–September 2022) [ZZZ201086.E]

Research Directorate, Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada

1. Overview

In an interview with the Research Directorate, a researcher who focuses on civil society and dissent in China indicated that since the Beijing Olympics in 2008, there has been a "steady tightening of the political situation in China" (Researcher 23 Aug. 2022). The European External Action Service (EEAS), the EU's "diplomatic service" that "carries out the EU's Common Foreign and Security Policy to promote peace, prosperity, security, and [European] interests" (EU n.d.), reports that in 2020, "civil and political rights continued to be severely challenged" in China, and the "enjoyment of freedom of expression continued to deteriorate steadily" (EU 25 June 2021, 193). In correspondence with the Research Directorate, a response prepared by Safeguard Defenders and Hong Kong Watch (HKW) [1] states that particularly in the last five years "the space for civil society operations," for "local groups to cooperate with foreign groups," for "individual human rights defence by lawyers through the use of law, and freedom of expression has taken a significant negative turn" (Safeguard Defenders and HKW 29 Aug. 2022).

The information in the following paragraph was provided in a country profile by the Human Rights Measurement Initiative (HRMI), an initiative of "human rights practitioners, researchers, academics, and other human rights supporters" that measures and tracks the "human rights performance of countries" (HRMI n.d.a) [2]:

China received a score of 2.8 out of 10 for the indicator "[s]afety from the [s]tate" indicating that "many people are at risk of arbitrary or political arrest or detention, torture and ill-treatment, forced disappearance, execution, or extrajudicial killing[s]." Human rights experts surveyed "overwhelmingly agreed that human rights advocates, protestors, and people who criticised the government were at particular risk of rights violations, especially arbitrary arrest and detention, forced disappearance, and torture and ill-treatment," and indicated that "agents of the state, particularly police, had total impunity to engage in torture of those detained." China also received a score of 2.1 out of 10 for the indicator of "empowerment," which includes the right to assembly and association, opinion, and expression, as well as the right to participate in government (HRMI 2022, 8,11).

2. Legislation
2.1 Mainland China

The Criminal Law of the People's Republic of China provides the following:

PART TWO

SPECIFIC PROVISIONS

Chapter I Crimes of Endangering National Security

[…]

Article 103 Among those who organize, plot or carry out the scheme of splitting the State or undermining unity of the country, the ringleaders and the others who commit major crimes shall be sentenced to life imprisonment or fixed-term imprisonment of not less than 10 years; the ones who take an active part in it shall be sentenced to fixed-term imprisonment of not less than three years but not more than 10 years; and the other participants shall be sentenced to fixed-term imprisonment of not more than three years, criminal detention, public surveillance or deprivation of political rights.

Whoever incites others to split the State or undermine unity of the country shall be sentenced to fixed-term imprisonment of not more than five years, criminal detention, public surveillance or deprivation of political rights; the ringleaders and the ones who commit major crimes shall be sentenced to fixed-term imprisonment of not less than five years.

Article 104 Among those who organize, plot or carry out armed rebellion or armed riot, the ringleaders and the others who commit major crimes shall be sentenced to life imprisonment or fixed-term imprisonment of not less than 10 years; the ones who take an active part in it shall be sentenced to fixed-term imprisonment of not less than three years but not more than 10 years; and the other participants shall be sentenced to fixed-term imprisonment of not more than three years, criminal detention, public surveillance or deprivation of political rights.

[…]

Article 105 Among those who organize, plot or carry out the scheme of subverting the State power or overthrowing the socialist system, the ringleaders and the others who commit major crimes shall be sentenced to life imprisonment or fixed-term imprisonment of not less than 10 years; the ones who take an active part in it shall be sentenced to fixed-term imprisonment of not less than three years but not more than 10 years; and the other participants shall be sentenced to fixed-term imprisonment of not more than three years, criminal detention, public surveillance or deprivation of political rights.

Whoever incites others by spreading rumors or slanders or any other means to subvert the State power or overthrow the socialist system shall be sentenced to fixed-term imprisonment of not more than five years, criminal detention, public surveillance or deprivation of political rights; and the ringleaders and the others who commit major crimes shall be sentenced to fixed-term imprisonment of not less than five years.

[…]

Article 293 Whoever commits any of the following acts of creating disturbances, thus disrupting public order, shall be sentenced to fixed-term imprisonment of not more than five years, criminal detention or public surveillance:

  1. beating another person at will and to a flagrant extent;
  2. chasing, intercepting or hurling insults to another person to a flagrant extent;
  3. forcibly taking or demanding, willfully damaging, destroying or occupying public or private money or property to a serious extent; or
  4. creating disturbances in a public place, thus causing serious disorder in such place. (China 1979, bold in original)

2.2 Hong Kong

The Law of the People's Republic of China on Safeguarding National Security in the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region provides the following:

Article 4 Human rights shall be respected and protected in safeguarding national security in the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region. The rights and freedoms, including the freedoms of speech, of the press, of publication, of association, of assembly, of procession and of demonstration, which the residents of the Region enjoy under the Basic Law of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region and the provisions of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights as applied to Hong Kong, shall be protected in accordance with the law. (China 2020)

For further information on this law, including regarding "subversion" and "terrorist activities," see Response to Information Request ZZZ200321 of September 2020.

3. Situation and Treatment of Political Dissidents by Authorities
3.1 Mainland China

Voice of America (VOA), a US-based international broadcaster that is funded by the US Congress (VOA n.d.), reports that China's "use of repressive tactics against dissidents and minorities [has] increased in recent years as President Xi Jinping has consolidated power at home" (VOA 14 July 2022). Associated Press (AP) notes that since President Xi Jinping came to power in 2012, "the [Chinese Communist Party (CCP)] has clamped down on dissident voices and anyone who challenges its version of events" (AP 26 Jan. 2022). In an interview with the Research Directorate, a scholar at the University of Chicago who focuses on criminal justice, legal systems, and human rights in China stated that since President Xi Jinping was elected in 2013, the situation for political dissidents in China has "worsened"; the same source noted that political dissidents in the country are "widely and brutally persecuted," that "many" have been "tortured," and that once they are detained or arrested, "it is rare" for dissidents to be acquitted of charges (Scholar 23 Aug. 2022).

Safeguard Defenders and HKW indicate that

revisions to the Criminal Law (2012 and 2018) have outlawed a number of new forms of peaceful expressions, while the Espionage Act (2014) and the National Security Law (2015) and the National Supervision Law (2018) have added ill-defined crimes. These changes have been affected by [human rights defenders (HRDs)], lawyers and local grassroots activists. The new law on protecting martyrs and heroes (2018) has further criminalized dissent from official government opinions. Continued changes to the Administrative Law (2017), as well as the Freedom of Information Act (2019) have directly targeted more local or grassroots activists, and added further limitations on how the legal system can be used for defending human rights. (Safeguard Defenders and HKW 29 Aug. 2022)

Sources noted that political dissidents face detention, dismissal from their jobs, travel bans (Researcher 23 Aug. 2022; Scholar 23 Aug. 2022), "unfair" trials, collective punishment, enforced disappearances, "frequent harassment," surveillance, digital attacks, hacking of personal devices, refusal to provide passports, and/or kidnappings from foreign countries or Hong Kong (Scholar 23 Aug. 2022). Safeguard Defenders and HKW indicate that "there has been a series of notable developments" in authorities' treatment of political dissidents in China:

  1. The use of the relatively new system for secret detentions, where people are held incommunicado and in solitary confinement, RSDL, or "residential surveillance at a design[at]ed location" has spread from initially targeting select higher profile HRDs to now being used en masse by local governments against grassroots targets.
  2. The use of house arrest, step by step codified further into law, has expanded significantly, and can now be used to keep people in effective custody even when regular time-limits built into the judiciary have been exhausted. This also includes placing those released from prison into house arrest, to ensure they cannot speak about their experience. …
  3. Despite lacking any nationwide statistics (unlike for point 1, 2, 4 and 7), there has been a marked increase in "collateral damage", where, unlike before, especially after 2017/2018, instead of simply going after individual HRDs, authorities are now actively targeting family members such as siblings, children and partners via detentions, harassment and intimidation, attacks on livelihood, having children denied access to schooling etc. …
  4. The use of Exit Bans, prohibiting targets from leaving the country has expanded massively since 2018, and can now be applied without judicial review, and even by non-law enforcement entities. …
  5. Many lawyers willing to engage in defending politically sensitive cases have been disbarred, and even those not disbarred are more often avoiding taking on such cases, as doing so would almost certainly lead to disbarment and loss of livelihood. The ability to seek and retain proper legal counsel has been diminished.
  6. At the same time, the authorities have started engaging, in far greater scale, in actions to deprive those with strong legal defence access to their lawyers, either by barring communication entirely, or forcing the victims to renounce their lawyers, and accepting state-appointed lawyers. For some HRDs, they have also, in a relatively new development, started being placed into formal pre-trial detention under fake names, rendering them into a state of being disappeared, hence cutting of contact to their families and lawyers.
  7. In addition, for those that manage to leave China, the government's long-arm policing has increased significantly, and the most common of all methods employed to either silence those abroad, or "encourage" them to return "voluntarily," is detention, arrest, or harassment of remaining family and friends in China.
  8. The law on martyrs and heroes, and the criminal law, does indeed maintain extraterritorial provisions, meaning peaceful exercise of freedom of speech outside of China can (and has) been used as basis for prosecution, and if those people cannot be returned to China, family members have been targeted inside China instead.
  9. In addition, the (limited) transparency that did exist for victims to back up their claims of persecution is being circumscribed, as the database on legal proceedings maintained by the Supreme Court is actively deleting legal documents … for any and all cases that involved anything deemed sensitive. … (Safeguard Defenders and HKW 29 Aug. 2022)

Amnesty International states that national security agencies in China "systematically monitor, harass, intimidate and detain" dissidents and "have routinely violated the rights of individuals facing national security charges with impunity" (Amnesty International 17 July 2020). According to the Netherlands' Ministry of Foreign Affairs (Ministerie van Buitenlandse Zaken, BZ), authorities in China "used criminal detention as a means of dealing with political dissidents" (Netherlands 1 July 2020, para. 4.3.1). The Congressional-Executive Commission on China (CECC), a commission created by the US Congress to "monitor human rights and the development of the rule of law in China" (US n.d.), states that authorities "labeled" dissidents "as criminals, using provisions such as 'endangering state security' and other vaguely defined offenses," and "used extrajudicial and extralegal means—such as mass internment camps, 'black jails,' and psychiatric hospitals—to detain" political dissidents (US 21 Mar. 2022, 9, 10). Freedom House indicates that "torture and other forms of coercion are widely employed to force political and religious dissidents to recant their beliefs" (Freedom House 28 Feb. 2022a, Sec. F3). Australia's Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) states that "[n]ational security, terror or corruption charges are often brought against political dissidents," and

[i]n these cases a suspect may be held for six months without contact with the outside world before an "arrest" is made. In theory family members are required to be notified of an arrest but, in practice, the law allows for this step to be omitted where it would hinder an investigation or where the alleged crime relates to national security, terrorism or "major bribery." Bail is theoretically available but rarely granted. (Australia 22 Dec. 2021, para. 4.15)

The information in the following paragraph was provided by the US Department of State's Country Reports on Human Rights Practices for 2021:

"Significant human rights issues [in China] included credible reports of … political prisoners[,] politically motivated reprisal against individuals outside the country," and "physical attacks on and criminal prosecution of" dissidents and their families. Prison authorities "reportedly singled out political and religious dissidents for particularly harsh treatment" and "in some cases," "did not allow dissidents to receive supplemental food, medicine, and warm clothing from relatives." According to human rights groups, authorities "increasingly relied" on cameras "and other forms of surveillance to monitor and intimidate political dissidents." Additionally, authorities "continued to use the [WeChat] app to monitor political dissidents and other critics, some of whom were detained by police or sentenced to prison for their communications." Further, the government "denied passport applications or used exit controls" at airports and border crossings "to deny foreign travel to some dissidents," including political dissidents (US 12 Apr. 2022, 1, 2, 5, 9, 28, 32, 57, 58).

Sources report that "vaguely worded" (US 12 Apr. 2022, 14) or "broadly worded" (SCMP 25 Aug. 2021) criminal charges have been used "against many civil rights advocates" (US 12 Apr. 2022, 14) or against "human rights activists and dissidents" (SCMP 25 Aug. 2021). An article by South China Morning Post (SCMP), an English-language newspaper based in Hong Kong, reports that in August 2021, two Chinese activists were sentenced to 15 months in prison for "'picking quarrels and provoking trouble'," and that this criminal charge "has been widely criticised for its potential to be used to muzzle dissent," and is known "as a catch-all offence" (SCMP 25 Aug. 2021). Sources note that "'picking quarrels'" (Al Jazeera 18 Jan. 2022) or "'picking quarrels and provoking trouble'" (The Diplomat 18 May 2022; US 12 Apr. 2022, 14) is a "criminal charge often used to punish free speech" (The Diplomat 18 May 2022) or is among the "vaguely worded charges" used "broadly against many civil rights advocates" (US 12 Apr. 2022, 14) or is a charge "often used to silence government critics" in China (Al Jazeera 18 Jan. 2022).

However, the researcher indicated that authorities use a "layered approach" depending on the severity or perceived severity of the issue, as well as the regional location; according to the researcher, some places are more restrictive "and much harsher," with areas with larger ethnic minorities (e.g. Xinjian) being "the harshest" towards political dissidents, while in larger cities, including Hong Kong, authorities may "call you in for an initial warning" (Researcher 23 Aug. 2022). Corroborating information could not be found among the sources consulted by the Research Directorate within the time constraints of this Response.

3.2 Hong Kong

Sources state that Hong Kong "has one of [the] fastest-growing populations of political prisoners in the world" (HKDC May 2022, 1) or that "[p]olitical dissidents experience a rapidly deteriorating situation in Hong Kong" (Safeguard Defenders and HKW 29 Aug. 2022). According to CIVICUS, an international alliance of civil society organizations "dedicated to strengthening citizen action and civil society throughout the world" (CIVICUS n.d.), there has been a "systematic crackdown on civic space" in Hong Kong "following mass protests that erupted against a proposed extradition bill" in June 2019, and the "draconian" National Security Law for Hong Kong that is "used to criminalise all forms of dissent"; as a result, "[d]ozens of pro-democracy activists have been arrested and jailed, civil society groups, protest movements and unions have been forced to disband and the media has also been targeted" (CIVICUS 23 Mar. 2022). According to Safeguard Defenders and HKW, "over 198 people have been arrested" under the National Security Law,

over 60 civil society organisations have been disbanded, and many of their leaders are in jail. This includes 12 labour unions, 12 media organizations, 11 grassroots groups, eight political groups, seven professional groups, seven human rights and humanitarian organizations, five student organizations, and four religious groups. Although many other civil society organizations have not formally disbanded, they find it increasingly difficult to retain members or recruit and have a smaller space to take meaningful action. (Safeguard Defenders and HKW 29 Aug. 2022)

The scholar noted that the National Security Law "destroyed" judicial independence in Hong Kong, meaning that Beijing could now "interfere" with and "dictate" the process of political cases and "influence" judicial decisions (Scholar 23 Aug. 2022). The researcher similarly indicated that since the enactment of the National Security Law, there has been an "effort" to … "alig[n]" the Hong Kong security system with that of mainland China (Researcher 23 Aug. 2022). According to EEAS, 2020 saw an acceleration in "the erosion of rights and freedoms … meant to be protected until at least 2047" in Hong Kong; for example, "[n]umerous pro-democracy activists, lawmakers, and journalists were arrested during the year, including on [National Security Law] and public order charges" (EU 25 June 2021, 195). A report on political prisoners in Hong Kong [3] by the Hong Kong Democracy Council (HKDC), a non-partisan and non-profit organization based in Washington, DC whose "work focuses on educational outreach, community empowerment, and policy advocacy" in Hong Kong (HKDC n.d.), indicates that

  • The right to freedom of assembly [in Hong Kong] has been indefinitely suspended, with all protests outright banned.
  • The right to freedom of association has crumbled as authorities have forced the closure of over 70 different civil society groups since the start of 2021, including student groups, labor unions, grassroots neighborhood groups, political groups, religious groups, and human rights organizations.
  • The right to freedom of expression has been tightly circumscribed with dozens arrested for chanting political slogans and for online posts, while independent media have either been shut down or "harmonized" and dissenting voices have been purged from the education system.
  • The right to political participation, only ever very partially realized, has essentially been abolished, with virtually the whole political opposition imprisoned and new electoral "reforms" allowing only "patriots" ([CCP]-speak for those approved By the Party) to run for office. (HKDC May 2022, 1)

However, sources indicated that the situation for political dissidents is "not as bad" in Hong Kong as it is in mainland China (Researcher 23 Aug. 2022) or that it is "not likely" for political dissidents in Hong Kong to be "tortured" in prisons or detention centers, "as they would be in mainland China," or subject to forced disappearances or extrajudicial killings (Scholar 23 Aug. 2022).

3.3 Examples of Incidents
3.3.1 Mainland China

Human Rights Watch (HRW) includes the following examples of incidents where dissidents "have become seriously ill in detention, been denied adequate care, and died either in detention or shortly after being released": in February 2021, a Tibetan activist and tour guide "died less than three months after being transferred to a hospital from prison," and in July 2019, a Fujian-based activist "died two months after being released from prison" (HRW 4 Nov. 2021). Al Jazeera states that since December 2019, authorities in China have "arrested dozens" of individuals "for taking part in discussions on current affairs and civil society issues" at an "informal civil society summit in Xiamen" in 2019 (Al Jazeera 22 June 2022). South China Morning Post reports that two activists in China "were sentenced to 15 months in prison" in August 2021 "for 'picking quarrels and provoking trouble' after archiving censored internet materials during the early days of the Covid-19 pandemic" (SCMP 25 Aug. 2021). Similarly, the US Country Reports 2021 includes the following examples of individuals charged and/or detained for "'picking quarrels and provoking trouble'":

  • In January 2021, a "former journalist … was sentenced to 18 months' imprisonment by the Nanming District Court in Guiyang City on charges of 'picking quarrels and provoking trouble'" for meeting with the US Secretary of State in 2014 and asking them to "'tear down this great firewall that blocks the Internet'"
  • In May 2021, "a leader of the 'Southern Street Movement' which advocates for the freedom of political expression, was detained by Guangzhou police" and then "formally arrested in July" 2021
  • A Beijing-based lawyer, "who defended human rights lawyers during the '709' crackdown, remained in detention at the Shenyang Detention Center; she has been held since 2017" and is "charged with 'picking quarrels and provoking trouble'"
  • In June 2021, a Christian man was "detained by authorities for 'picking quarrels and provoking troubles' after taking a picture of himself on the Guangzhou Metro holding a small sign that read 'June 4th: Pray for the Country'"
  • In July 2021, a "veteran petitioner … went on trial at the Jiaozuo City Central Station People's Court on the charge of 'picking quarrels and provoking trouble'"; she was detained in 2019 "after she accompanied a friend to Beijing to file a petition at the Supreme People's Court" (US 12 Apr. 2022, 15, 16, 32, 36)

3.3.2 Hong Kong

According to Germany's Federal Office for Migration and Refugees (Bundesamt für Migration und Flüchtlinge, BAMF), a multi-millionaire and founder of a daily newspaper that is critical of the Chinese government was "sentenced to 14 months in prison" in April 2021 "for taking part in protests against the Chinese government" in 2018 and 2019 (Germany 31 May 2021, 3). Agence France-Presse (AFP) notes that in February 2021, police arrested 55 "pro-democracy campaigners" in Hong Kong and charged 47 of them "with one count each of 'conspiracy to commit subversion'" (AFP 1 Mar. 2021). According to AFP, those charged "face up to life in prison if convicted" (AFP 1 Mar. 2021). According to sources, "[a]bout 2,000 Hong Kong residents have been detained, and the main opposition Apple Daily newspaper shut down since the pro-democracy protests in 2019" (The Guardian 18 Aug. 2022) or there were 1,014 political prisoners in Hong Kong from June 2019 to May 2022 (HKDC May 2022, 1).

4. Situation of Students and Treatment by Authorities
4.1 Mainland China

The scholar indicated that students who oppose the government in China are treated the same as political dissidents and they are subject to conviction, arrest, and/or "persecut[ion]" by authorities (Scholar 23 Aug. 2022). The researcher stated that while students in China are "relatively privileged" compared to other social groups (e.g., workers) "who may be treated more harshly," the Chinese government is "very wary" of "any" structure, network, or civil society group (Researcher 23 Aug. 2022). Similarly, Safeguard Defenders and HKW noted that students "are considered, in many ways, a much greater threat to the [CCP]'s hold on power compared with human rights defenders" due to the memory of the protests in 1987 and 1989; however, "due to their youth, unless they are engaged in small local NGOs, or in any organized fashion, [they are] often dealt with more leniently, at least as long as they are compliant with police demands once detained, arrested or taken in for questioning" (Safeguard Defenders and HKW 29 Aug. 2022).

According to the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR), a US-based "independent, nonpartisan membership organization, think tank, and publisher" (CFR n.d.), student protesters "demanding a more democratic system have formed several political groups" since 2014; however, "the power of these groups and pro-democracy parties ha[s] weakened significantly as Beijing has cracked down on political opposition, including via the national security law" (CFR 19 May 2022). The same source further notes that "[s]everal parties have disbanded, and members have been forbidden from running in elections or jailed" (CFR 19 May 2022). Corroborating information could not be found among the sources consulted by the Research Directorate within the time constraints of this Response.

Sources report that "[u]niversity administrations were hostile towards student unions" (HRW 13 Jan. 2022, 163) or that school administrators in Chinese universities "have made it harder for student unions to collect dues and organize on campus" (The New York Times 31 July 2021). The same sources also indicate that "a number of academics were fired, or their contracts were not renewed, because of their pro-democracy views" (HRW 13 Jan. 2022, 4) or that "[u]nion leaders have been suspended for actions relating to pro-democracy protests" (The New York Times 31 July 2021). According to Freedom House, "[e]fforts to police classroom discussions have increased at all levels of education, including via installation of surveillance cameras in some classrooms, large-scale recruitment of student informants, and the creation of special departments to supervise the political thinking of teaching staff," and "[p]rofessors and students face reprisals—ranging from censored writings, travel restrictions, and demotions to arrest and imprisonment—for expressing views that are deemed critical of the CCP's governance" (Freedom House 28 Feb. 2022a, Sec. D3).

4.2 Hong Kong

The researcher noted that students in Hong Kong are viewed as a "force of potential upheaval" and are of "greater concern" to authorities since the 2019 protests at the Hong Kong Polytechnic University (PolyU) (Researcher 23 Aug. 2022). The HKDC indicates that "[y]oung people, who were in the forefront of the 2019-20 mass protests, have been disproportionately targeted" and "[m]ore than three-quarters of Hong Kong's political prisoners are under the age of 30, more than half under 25, and more than 15 percent under 18" (HKDC May 2022, 2). According to Freedom House, "a crackdown on free speech on campus, academic freedom, and student activity persisted throughout 2021" in Hong Kong (Freedom House 28 Feb. 2022b, Sec. D3). The Diplomat, a current affairs magazine focused on events in the Asia-Pacific region (The Diplomat n.d.), indicates that student unions "became the authorities' target after the National Security Law was introduced" and "[u]nions across Hong Kong's universities [were] soon disbanded or were disavowed in a similar manner, with the last student union disbanded in April 2022" (The Diplomat 14 Apr. 2022). Amnesty International states that

[s]ince the enactment of the national security law the Hong Kong government has been rapidly eliminating dissenting voices in schools. The Education Bureau prohibited completely peaceful expressions of political views and activities that it deems to be politically motivated. It banned teachers from school for facilitating discussion related to freedom of expression. In November 2020, police arrested three students under the national security law after they joined a peaceful protest on a university campus. (Amnesty International 10 Aug. 2021)

4.2.1 Examples of Incidents

Amnesty International states that in December 2020, eight students who participated in a protest at the Chinese University of Hong Kong (CUHK) "were arrested and charged with unauthorized assembly" and "[t]hree of those arrested were additionally charged under the national security law with 'inciting secession'" (Amnesty International 7 Dec. 2020). The Standard, an English-language daily newspaper in Hong Kong, reports that in October 2020 three former members of the student group Studentlocalism were arrested by police "on suspicion of breaching the national security law" (The Standard 28 Oct. 2020). The same source reports that the three and another former member of the group had previously been arrested in July 2020 under the national security law and for "suspicion of inciting secession" (The Standard 28 Oct. 2020). AP indicates that in August 2021 four members of a student union at a Hong Kong university were arrested for "'promoting terrorism'" at a council meeting by "paying tribute to a person who stabbed a police officer and then killed himself" as police had "previously cautioned people against mourning the attacker" (AP 18 Aug. 2021).

This Response was prepared after researching publicly accessible information currently available to the Research Directorate within time constraints. This Response is not, and does not purport to be, conclusive as to the merit of any particular claim for refugee protection. Please find below the list of sources consulted in researching this Information Request.

Notes

[1] Safeguard Defenders is a human rights NGO in the EU that "supports local field operations" which "contribute to the protection of human rights and promote the rule of law in some of the most hostile environments in Asia, in particular in China," while Hong Kong Watch (HKW) is a charity in the UK that "researches and monitors threats to Hong Kong's basic freedoms, the rule of law and autonomy as promised under the 'one country, two systems' principle which is enshrined in the Basic Law and the Sino-British Joint Declaration" (Safeguard Defenders and HKW 29 Aug. 2022).

[2] The Human Rights Measurement Initiative (HRMI) measures eight civil and political human rights metrics (right to freedom from arbitrary arrest; right to freedom from disappearance; right to freedom from the death penalty; right to freedom from extrajudicial execution; right to freedom from torture; right to assembly and association; right to opinion and expression; right to participate in government) based on information gathered through an "expert opinion survey" of human rights researchers and practitioners "who are monitoring events" in "more than 40 countries" (HRMI n.d.b).

[3] The report by the Hong Kong Democracy Council (HKDC) on political prisoners from 9 June 2019 to 10 May 2022 is based on the Hong Kong Political Prisoners Database (HKPPD), "a full database of political prisoners in Hong Kong compiled by [HKDC] in collaboration with Hong Kongers" (HKDC May 2022, 1, 2).

References

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Additional Sources Consulted

Oral sources: ARTICLE 19; Asia Society – Center on U.S.-China Relations; associate professor at an American university who focuses on the legal system, law, criminal justice, and criminal reform in China; associate professor at an American university who focuses on policing, criminal law and justice in China; associate professor at a Canadian university who focuses on authoritarian and contentious politics in China; associate professor at a Chinese university who focuses on criminal procedures, including interrogation, human rights, and search and seizure in China; Australian Strategic Policy Institute; Brookings Institution; Center for Strategic and International Studies; China Support Network; Chinese Human Rights Defenders; Council on Foreign Relations; director at an American university who focuses on Chinese exit bans and Chinese/Hong Kong security laws; The Dui Hua Foundation; Human Rights in China; Human Rights Watch; Lawyers' Rights Watch Canada; professor at an American university who focuses on law and society in China; professor at an Australian university who focuses on policing and punishment in China; professor at a university in the UK who focuses on policing in China; senior fellow at an American university who focuses on criminal procedure law, specifically for youth, as well as death penalty cases and human rights in China; US – Congressional-Executive Commission on China, Law Library of Congress; visiting professor at an American university who researches the police and criminal procedure in China; visiting scholar at a Chinese university who focuses on administrative detention, extra-legal violence and coercion, and human rights in China; Wilson Center.

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