Keywords and ‘made-simple’ Summary of the National Security
The Executive Council on Tuesday approved some amendments to the proposed National Security bill after having sought views from the public. There are altogether 12 amendments covering from tightening the investigation power of police to setting a time limit for prosecution of sedition.
Sedition 煽動叛亂 is one of the very controversial issues in the national security law. The existing sedition offence in the Crimes Ordinance will be repealed. A new section will be added to provide that it is an offence of sedition to incite others to commit the offence of treason, subversion or secession; or to incite others to engage in violent public disorder that would seriously endanger the stability of the People’s Republic of China.
An offender is liable to a maximum penalty of imprisonment for life.
The government claims that the revision is based on the common law principle of incitement. It also claims that it will not criminalise peaceful advocacy.
To further protect human rights, the government proposed to amend the law by adding “intentionally 故意” in the clause. This will tighten the sedition law so that incitement is only a crime if it is intentional and likely to induce another person to commit national security offences.
Also, in the proposed law, a person commits sedition if he intentionally incites others to engage in Hong Kong or elsewhere in violent public disorder that would seriously endanger the stability of the People’s Republic of China. That means this law also has extra-territorial effect. So it is untrue that one can escape prosecution if one is thought to have committed sedition outside Hong Kong.
Another proposed amendment is the time of prosecution in handling seditious publications 處理煽動性刊物. This section has drawn much attention from academic, journalists and librarians who fear their freedom of expression would be undermined. We will look into this issue in the next e-mail.
Note: Credit is due to the Hon Bernard Chan for sharing these information with me.