Hong Kong Implements New National Security Law

Hong Kong has recently implemented a national security law that aims to safeguard national security and uphold the policy of "One Country, Two Systems."

On June 30, 2020, the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress of the People's Republic of China passed the Law of the People's Republic of China on Safeguarding National Security in the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region ("National Security Law"). This took effect at 11 p.m. on the same day. The National Security Law applies to, inter alia: (i) offences committed within Hong Kong; (ii) offences committed by Hong Kong permanent residents and entities (whether in or outside Hong Kong); and (iii) offences committed against Hong Kong by non-permanent residents from outside Hong Kong. An offence is deemed to be committed within Hong Kong when an act constituting the offence or the consequence of the offence occurs in Hong Kong.

The National Security Law targets four categories of offences: secession, subversion, terrorist activities, and collusion with a foreign country or external elements to endanger national security. Persons/entities within or outside Hong Kong might commit an offence by inciting, assisting or providing support (including financial assistance or property) for the above four categories of offences.

The penalties for the offences vary. These depend on the level of involvement and/or the gravity of the consequences regarding the offences. The sentence for individuals ranges from short-term detention up to life imprisonment. As regards incorporated or unincorporated bodies, convictions could result in criminal fines, suspension of operations and/or revocation of license or business permit. Unlawful proceeds and tools used or intended to be used for the relevant offences might also be confiscated.

The Hong Kong police might require persons/entities to assist their investigation, with power to: (i) search places for evidence without warrant; (ii) remove electronic messages; (iii) require a service provider to provide identification records or decryption assistance; (iv) require a political organization of a foreign country outside of China, Hong Kong, and Macao to provide information; (v) conduct interception and covert surveillance; and (vi) require persons/entities to furnish information or produce materials.

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