Progressive Lawyers Group members Jason Y. Ng, Craig Choy and Wilson Leung commented on the threat faced by human rights lawyers in Hong Kong in Human Rights First’s latest report on Hong Kong.

Below is an excerpt from the report, “New Law, New Threat”.

The New Security Law

“ ‘Our fear is that the sort of vague national security laws used to target human rights lawyers in mainland China will now happen here,” said Wilson Leung of the Hong Kong Progressive Lawyers Group (PLG), an advocacy group that seeks to safeguard Hong Kong’s rule of law. “Human rights lawyers on the mainland, such as Wang Quanzhang and Tang Jingling, have been arrested under those laws. We could be next. We’ve seen that China’s security laws are so elastic they can be stretched to mean whatever the government wants ‘terrorism’’or ‘security’ ’to mean, and then use the law to target lawyers and other civil society leaders,’ added Leung.”

“Other leading lawyers also worry that the new law will threaten Hong Kong’s legal community. Barrister Craig Choy is a former spokesman of the PLG. ‘Human rights lawyers in Hong Kong can expect what happened to the human rights lawyers in China will happen to them very soon,’ he said. ‘There will be a tighter control by the government, and objections to new lawyers with dissident views to be admitted [into the legal profession].’ ”

A Year of Making Life Difficult for Human Rights Lawyers

Vilification and Attacks

“Jason Ng is an author and convener of the PLG. In September 2019, following a Facebook post that Ng made on his personal page expressing his views on pro-Beijing supporters, he became the subject of a doxxing campaign. His employer, an international investment bank, issued a public apology for the post and shortly thereafter he left his senior legal post at the bank. Ng remains active on social media. ‘Within minutes of posting a tweet, I’ll get dozens of nasty comments from accounts with strange names,’he says. ‘Those comments are clearly politically motivated to question my integrity and damage my credibility. Most of them are fake accounts generated by a computer algorithm.’

Barrister Craig Choy described a wave of online personal attacks, from being called ignorant to comments challenging his barrister qualification. In November 2019, his personal information, including photos, date of birth, sexuality, and social activism history were disclosed on a webpage.

He says those who did this ‘are a group of organized netizens who support the government, [and] once a key opinion leader retweets my post, all the netizens will attack me all together.’ The attackers ’ motivation, he says, is ‘to diminish the dissidents ’influences, and even to make us unable to live by challenging our legal qualification.’ ”

Report originally appeared in Human Rights First on June 2 2020