On October 25, Amnesty announced its plan to shut down its Hong Kong operations, with a local section office ceasing operation on October 31 and a regional office set to close by the end of 2021.
The organisation said the decision to depart from Hong Kong after four decades in the city was prompted by the National Security Law, which went into effect June 30, 2020. The legislation allows Hong Kong’s administration to punish what it considers acts of secession, subversion of state power, terrorist activities and collusion with foreign or external forces to endanger national security.
Since the imposition of the law, Hong Kong’s press freedom and security of human rights have declined rapidly, with media workers, pro-democracy activists and politicians, and scholars arrested or charged on national security grounds. Moreover, at least 35 trade unions and other civil society groups have disbanded, including some of the city’s largest unions and activist groups, amid the government’s crackdown.
Anjhula Mya Singh Bais, chair of Amnesty’s International Board, said “This decision, made with a heavy heart, has been driven by Hong Kong’s national security law, which has made it effectively impossible for human rights organisations in Hong Kong to work freely and without fear of serious reprisals from the government.”
The IFJ said, “As an apolitical non-governmental organisation dedicated to promoting freedom of the press, the IFJ has in the past partnered with Amnesty Hong Kong on efforts to safeguard press freedom and enhance journalists’ rights in Hong Kong. The closure of Amnesty Hong Kong and disbandment of other groups reflect the depletion of civil space in the city. The IFJ urges the Hong Kong authorities to respect freedom of the press, of association and the right and freedom to form and join trade unions as guaranteed in the city’s Basic Law.”