A new survey has revealed that the human rights situation in the city has deteriorated since Beijing’s crackdown after the pro-democracy protests of 2019.
A survey released this week shows a fall in human rights in Hong Kong, which now ranks close to Saudi Arabia and Venezuela, Voice of America (VOA) reported citing the Human Rights Measurement Initiative (HRMI).
The survey data show that civil society in Hong Kong has shrunk, and freedom of speech and assembly has been suppressed since the imposition of the Hong Kong version of China’s National Security Law in 2020, Chung Kim-wah, honorary director of Hong Kong Public Opinion Research Institute, told VOA in a phone interview.
“Watching events in Hong Kong over the past couple of years has been quite harrowing, and so I doubt that Hong Kong’s scores will come as a surprise to any Hong Kong watchers,” said HRMI spokesperson Anne-Marie Brook.
The data from an unspecified sample size shows that Hong Kong’s freedom of assembly and association, freedom of expression and political participation continued to decline for the third consecutive year.
According to VOA, the freedom of assembly and association is evaluated on a 10-point scale.
Hong Kong scored 4.5 points in 2019 and 2.5 points in 2021, results the survey describes as “very bad.” Freedom of expression fell from 4.7 in 2019, to 2.7 in 2021, while suffrage dropped from 4 to 2.4 over the same period, VOA reported.
“Hong Kong’s scores over the last three years are converging on China’s very low scores,” Rowden told VOA Cantonese via email Thursday evening. “Hong Kong’s empowerment scores [freedom of assembly and association; freedom of opinion and expression; participation in government] have fallen dramatically, so that they are nearly the same as China’s.”
Dr K. Chad Clay, an HRMI co-founder told VOA Cantonese since the advent of National Security Law, “speaking out is likely to result in arrest and detention, which has likely led many people to self-censor in order to avoid their own arrest in response.”
“Backing this up,” he added, “our data absolutely show a continued precipitous decline in the rights to opinion, expression, assembly, and association.”
This visit comes ahead of Chinese President Xi Jinping’s Hong Kong visit next month.
Xi Jinping will visit Hong Kong next week to mark the 25th anniversary of the city’s handover to China, the leader’s first trip outside the country since the COVID-19 pandemic began.
His visit will include the attendance of the swearing-in ceremony of the city’s new leader John Lee. Hong Kong authorities have banned select media outlets from covering incoming leader John Lee’s inauguration, citing COVID-19 pandemic restrictions and security reasons.
Many of the barred outlets are registered and regularly attend government press conferences, the Hong Kong Free Press (HKFP) reported.