The international community must resist Hong Kong’s attempts to threaten human rights across the globe using the National Security Law
Eight pro-democracy activists living in exile in the UK, USA and Australia, including Nathan Law (pictured), are the subject of arrest warrants and rewards for information leading to their capture
04 Jul 23

Index on Censorship is deeply alarmed by the reports that the Hong Kong Police Force have issued arrest warrants for eight pro-democracy activists living in exile in the UK, USA and Australia. According to the police force, all those targeted “are alleged to have continued to commit offences under the Hong Kong National Security Law that seriously endanger national security, including ‘incitement to secession’, ‘subversion’, ‘incitement to subversion’ and ‘collusion with a foreign country or with external elements to endanger national security’.” Index has long condemned the National Security Law as it has fundamentally criminalised dissent and “paralysed pro-independence and pro-democracy advocates in the city.”

Index further condemns the reward offered by the Hong Kong authorities of HK$1 million (£100,581) for information leading to their capture. By offering financial incentives to members of the public to report on these pro-democracy activists, the authorities are trying to turn society against itself to isolate those who have spoken out against China’s attack on human rights. This is especially damaging for those living in exile. Through the Banned By Beijing project, Index has documented how Chinese authorities – both in Hong Kong and mainland China – have threatened those who have fled to Europe, targeting their ability to work, express themselves, seek education, or continue advocating for human rights back home in China. 

The extraterritorial reach of the National Security Law explicitly targets those who have fled due to their work defending democracy. The US Government highlighted this specific issue in their statement responding to the warrants, stating that “the extraterritorial application of the Beijing-imposed National Security Law is a dangerous precedent that threatens the human rights and fundamental freedoms of people all over the world.” All states must ensure they can respond robustly to all threats of transnational repression. This was highlighted in an exhibition launched by Index last week in London to mark the third anniversary of the enactment of Hong Kong’s National Security Law, which featured Badiucao, a Chinese-Australian artist and human rights defender; Lumli Lumlong, a husband and wife painting duo; and leading Uyghur campaigner, Rahima Mahmut.

All countries must stand firm to their commitment to ensure that all those targeted by these warrants and the National Security Law are protected from transnational threats wherever they are.