Carmichael calls for greater support of Hongkongers facing political imprisonment

20 Mar 2024

Orkney and Shetland MP, Alistair Carmichael, has today condemned the passing of the Safeguarding National Security Bill under Article 23 of the Basic Law of Hong Kong. Speaking in an Urgent Question in Parliament Mr Carmichael raised concerns about the risk to British National (Overseas) passport holders who could be criminalised and subject to political imprisonment.

The new law allows for closed-door trials, gives the police rights to detain suspects for up to 16 days without charge and penalties including life sentences. Similar to the National Security Law, Article 23 has long-reaching extraterritorial effects, as the law criminalises activities that are conducted wholly outside of Hong Kong and by non-Chinese, non-Hong Kong nationals.

Mr Carmichael is the Chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Hong Kong, which held its Annual General Meeting in Parliament this morning [Wednesday 20th March].

Speaking in the House, Mr Carmichael said:

“The All-Party Parliamentary Group on Hong Kong, which I chair, heard very powerful testimony this morning from a young Hongkonger who had been a political prisoner there. It’s obviously the case now that we will see more people enduring the indignity of political imprisonment. The British National (Overseas) passport visa can be withheld on the basis of the applicant being imprisoned. Surely now that is something that must be reviewed?”

Responding, the Deputy Foreign Secretary Andrew Mitchell MP said:

“That is not a matter solely for [the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office], but he is right in his fundamental understanding as he has set out, of the breach of the law that is going on here. He may well have seen, as I have, the words of Volker Türk, the UN human rights lead, who has said that ‘on the face of it, this law looks incompatible with international humanitarian law.’”

Reacting after the exchange, Mr Carmichael said:

“Under this new law repressing human rights in Hong Kong, any political organisation in the world can be accused of endangering Hong Kong’s national security – yet another authoritarian escalation. The Chinese government appears to have dropped all pretence of respecting Hongkonger freedom and autonomy. Hongkongers will now be criminalised for activities that we take for granted in democratic countries across the world.

“The UK has a duty to the people of Hong Kong, particularly those facing political repression. We need to see rules around the movement of BNO passport holders reviewed to ensure that they are not disadvantaged by this latest criminalising act.”

This website uses cookies

Like most websites, this site uses cookies. Some are required to make it work, while others are used for statistical or marketing purposes. If you choose not to allow cookies some features may not be available, such as content from other websites. Please read our Cookie Policy for more information.

Essential cookies enable basic functions and are necessary for the website to function properly.
Statistics cookies collect information anonymously. This information helps us to understand how our visitors use our website.
Marketing cookies are used by third parties or publishers to display personalized advertisements. They do this by tracking visitors across websites.