U.N. rights chief says HK trials key test on judiciary, ‘chilling impact’ on democracy

The top United Nations human rights official said on Monday that the national security law imposed in Hong Kong would be a key test for the city’s judiciary.

Bachelet told the U.N. Human Rights Council in Geneva that the national security law imposed in Hong Kong a year ago had had a “chilling impact” on democratic space and media in the city.

“This will be an important test of independence for Hong Kong’s judiciary in its willingness to uphold Hong Kong’s obligations under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, in accordance with the Basic Law,” she said, Reuters reported..

She also added that so far 107 people had been arrested under the law, including 57 formally charged, and that the first trials were due this week.

Government officials in Beijing and Hong Kong say the national security law is needed to avert threats to national security, and that the rights and freedoms of ordinary Hong Kong people are being be protected.

“The High Commissioner is advised to stop making erroneous remarks against China, and refrain from interfering in China’s sovereignty and judicial independence,” Liu Yuyin, spokesperson for the Chinese Mission to UN at Geneva said.

Critics say the law is being used to crush dissent in the global financial hub, an assertion Beijing rejects.

Meanwhile, Bachelet also said she hoped to agree on terms for a visit this year to China, including its Xinjiang region, to look into reports of serious violations against Muslim Uyghurs.

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