Coat of arms

Chair of the Joint Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade
Senator for South Australia

Media Release
2 June 2020

United to Speak Out for the people of Hong Kong

Senator the Hon David Fawcett, Chair of the Joint Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs Defence and Trade, has joined other Members of Parliament from New Zealand, Canada, and the United Kingdom—also chairs of their respective Foreign Affairs committees—in writing a joint letter to the Secretary General of the United Nations calling for action to protect the legal right to freedom for the people of Hong Kong guaranteed under the Sino-British Joint Declaration.

The Sino-British Joint Declaration is a binding treaty signed between the United Kingdom and China on 19 December 1984 and was registered by the Chinese and British governments at the United Nations on 12 June 1985. The UN therefore has a role to uphold the protections legally required of the treaty parties.

The four legislators are asking that the UN Human Rights Council approve a mandate for a Special Envoy for Hong Kong in light of the National People’s Congress decision to impose new national security laws on the territory.

For Beijing to impose the Security Law on Hong Kong, without the direct participation of its people, legislature or judiciary, is a breach of the legally Sino-British Joint Declaration.

It undermines Article 27 of Hong Kong’s Basic Law which states that “Hong Kong residents shall have freedom of speech, of the press and of publication; freedom of association, of assembly, of procession and of demonstration; and the right and freedom to form and join trade unions, and to strike”.

Senator Fawcett has also written directly to Prime Minister Morrison calling for Australia, as a member of the UNHRC to work toward the creation of a mandate under the Special Procedures of the Council.

The joint letter (pictured, below) to the UN Secretary General is signed by Mr Simon O’Connor MP, Chair, Committee on Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade, New Zealand Parliament; Mr Michael Levitt MP, Chair, Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs and International Development, Canadian Parliament (Parlement du Canada); and Mr Tom Tugendhat MP, Chair, Foreign Affairs Committee, United Kingdom Parliament.

“Our four countries share a commitment to common law values and have a long standing relationship with the people of Hong Kong, with citizens of our nations serving as Judges in the Hong Kong Court of Final Appeal. We stand together in calling for more action to support the people of Hong Kong in maintaining the freedoms they have under existing law. We are pleased as legislators within our four parliaments to stand together and speak as one on this important matter of human rights and the rule of law.”