1. Overview of the human rights and democracy situation: In 2020, the erosion of rights and freedoms, that were meant to be protected until at least 2047, accelerated in Hong Kong. Interventions by the mainland authorities called into question China’s willingness to uphold its international commitments and the Hong Kong Basic Law.
The imposition on 30 June of a National Security Law (NSL) through a decision by the Standing Committee of China’s National People’s Congress (NPCSC) raised grave concerns. Numerous pro-democracy activists, lawmakers and journalists were arrested during the year, including on NSL and public order charges.
The trend towards self-censorship in the media, academia and civil society has accelerated.
The Legislative Council (LegCo) elections that were due to take place on 6 September were postponed for one year, with the government citing the COVID-19 outbreak as justification. The NPCSC issued a decision to extend the term of LegCo pending the elections.
Most lawmakers from the opposition pan-democrat camp decided to continue serving for the period of the extension. However, on 11 November, the NPCSC adopted a decision that allowed lawmakers to be immediately disqualified by the executive without any due process, right of appeal or involvement of the judicial authorities. The Hong Kong Government immediately declared four sitting pan-democrat lawmakers to have been disqualified under the decision. Further 15 pan-democrat lawmakers subsequently resigned in protest.
In December, prominent pro-democracy activists Joshua Wong, Agnes Chow and Ivan Lam were incarcerated after convictions for unlawful assembly. Another prominent pro-democracy figure, media executive Jimmy Lai, was denied bail. Several others left Hong Kong to seek asylum.