Irish barristers join global condemnation of Hong Kong lawyer arrests

Irish barristers have joined legal colleagues around the world in condemning the arrests of lawyers and democracy activists in Hong Kong.

The Council of The Bar of Ireland wrote to Hong Kong’s chief executive Carrie Lam and to China’s embassy in Ireland following the arrests of Martin Lee QC and Dr Margaret Ng over the weekend.

Tim O’Leary SC, chairperson of the Bar’s human rights committee, said: “The arrest of lawyers Mr Lee and Dr Ng, whose peaceful and legitimate protection of human rights in accordance with domestic and international legal frameworks, causes grave concerns for access to justice and the rule of law.”

His letter seeks the immediate release of the detainees, the dropping of all charges against them, and the end of “what are alleged to be politicised and targeted prosecutions against those involved in peaceful demonstrations”.

Mr O’Leary said Article 39 of the Hong Kong Basic Law expressly preserves the application of the 1966 International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) to the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR) and thereby the HKSAR government’s duty to “conform to its obligations”.

He concluded: “The Council of The Bar of Ireland urges the Hong Kong authorities to ensure that the rule of law, including the necessity for an independent legal profession unhindered by any campaign which seeks to subvert lawyers’ ability to fully represent their clients’ interests and rights, is respected and protected.”

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