The UN has called on China to repeal a draconian national security law imposed on Hong Kong from July 1, 2020, citing a lack of protection for civil and political rights under a citywide crackdown on political opposition and public dissent.
In a report following its periodic review of China's compliance with international human rights covenants, the UN Human Rights Committee said it was "deeply concerned" that the national security law is being interpreted too broadly, citing a lack of clarity about the meaning of "national security", RFA reported.
"Since its enactment in 2020, the (law) has reportedly led to the arrests of over 200 people, including 12 children," the report said, adding that there is also provision under the law for people to be sent to China for investigation, prosecution, trial and to serve sentences.
The committee said China hasn't ratified the international covenants on civil and political rights, or economic rights, so the treaties wouldn't apply to such cases.
It called on the Hong Kong authorities to "take concrete steps to repeal the current National Security Law and, in the meantime, refrain from applying the Law", RFA reported.
The report added: "The excessive power of the Chief Executive and other measures provided for in the Law ... can effectively undermine the independence of judiciary and procedural safeguards for access to justice and right to a fair trial."
It also called for an independent national human rights institution with a comprehensive mandate and appropriate powers to promote and protect human rights.
The ruling Chinese Communist Party (CCP) defines "national security" broadly, and its laws at home and in Hong Kong criminalize overseas contacts and fundraising, criticism of the authorities and peaceful political opposition.
The law ushered in a crackdown on Hong Kong that has seen several senior journalists, pro-democracy media magnate Jimmy Lai and 47 former lawmakers and democracy activists charged with offenses from "collusion with a foreign power" to "subversion", RFA reported.