Speech in the European Parliament Debate on Article 23

Mr. John Cushnahan MEP (PPE-DE, Ireland):

"Madam President, since July 1997, the European Parliament has been a staunch defender of the autonomy of Hong Kong under the 'one-country two-systems' policy. In pursuit of this policy, we have worked constructively with the Hong Kong administration, reflected by the attendance of the former Chief Secretary Anson Chan and her successor, Donald Tsang, at meetings of the Committee on Foreign Affairs, Human Rights, Common Security and Defence Policy. It is therefore appropriate that we should continue to monitor developments which could in any way undermine the autonomy of Hong Kong and threaten fundamental freedoms. Enactment of legislation under Article 23 has raised such concerns.

While I welcome the personal guarantee given by Chief Secretary Donald Tsang that he will not allow the freedoms enjoyed by Hong Kong citizens to be undermined, this must be reflected in the proposed legislation. Last weekend, a large demonstration in Hong Kong illustrated the genuine concerns that Article 23 laws could undermine existing human rights and civil and religious liberties. I share these concerns and I urge the Hong Kong SAR Government to address them in the final proposals that they bring forward. In particular, the new laws must not violate the provisions of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, nor must they in any way undermine the independence of the Hong Kong courts and their right to exercise the power of final jurisdiction. The reinterpretation of the Basic Law by the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress during the right-of-abode case is still fresh in many people's minds. There must not be a repeat of this with regard to Article 23 issues.

I would ask the Hong Kong authorities to take note of this debate, to take note of this resolution, especially our request for the publication of a draft bill which should be subject to further consultation."

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