Human rights specialist hits out at anti-subversion laws

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 05 December, 2002, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 05 December, 2002, 12:00am

A human rights expert has warned that proposed anti-subversion laws could result in Hong Kong becoming a police state.

Frances D'Souza, who was instrumental in devising the Johannesburg Principle, which is internationally regarded as the standard for the protection of freedoms in the context of national security laws, said the proposed legislation had breached international principles on human rights.

She said Hong Kong's economy and its path to full democracy could suffer if the government embarked on the 'slippery slope' by implementing the proposals. 'It's akin to putting people in a police state,' Dr D'Souza said of the legislation, which is required by Article 23 of the Basic Law.

'There is no question that Article 23 is an extraordinarily backward step . . . If we allow this bill to pass, we are allowing a major body blow to democracy.'

Dr D'Souza, who heads Article 19, a British watchdog group that protects freedom of expression, will debate the proposed laws with acting Permanent Secretary for Security Timothy Tong Hin-ming at a forum today.