Open letter to international governments on the prosecution and hearings of 12 young Hongkongers in Shenzhen
26 December 2020
Dear World Leaders, Parliamentarians, and the International Community,
We write to appeal for your help in safeguarding the legal rights of the twelve Hongkongers held in incommunicado in Shenzhen for four months. Denied the right to be represented by lawyers of their own choices, 10 of them would face trial in Shenzhen on 28 December 2020, while their families are barred from attending with excuses concerning quarantine requirements. Among the twelve, there are British, Portuguese and Vietnamese nationals. We urge governments to send embassy personnel to the hearing to guarantee a proper and fair trial by the courts in Shenzhen.
On 16 December, the Shenzhen authorities announced that ten adults among the twelve detained would be formally prosecuted for charges pertaining to illegal border crossing while the remaining two, still underage, would have a closed-door hearing to decide whether a charge against them would be pressed. On 25 December, some families were notified that the trial would be held at 2:30pm on 28 December at Shenzhen Yantian People’s Court, but the trial of the ten Hongkongers was not among a list of hearings publicized by the Court that would be livestreamed.
From the outset, the Chinese government has been adamant in preventing all forms of contact between the detained and their families. Lawyers hired by the families were barred from meeting with the detainees while lawyers of unknown identities were assigned by the Chinese authorities to ensure total control over the legal proceedings. The Chinese authorities are once again abusing administrative measures and using pandemic control as the pretext to prevent families from attending the court hearings in person in time. Meanwhile, the media reported that the Shenzhen court has proclaimed the cases “classified” and prohibited reporters from attending the hearings, thus rendering them de facto secret trials.
The families of the twelve Hongkongers strongly condemn the Chinese authorities’ decisions. By holding the trial of the twelve in secret, barring the media and the families from attending, the Chinese authorities are disregarding basic human rights, acting against the "sunshine judiciary" principle they have been promoting. In this regard, we would like to appeal to the international community to stand by these twelve Hongkongers and in particular:
1. To urge the Chinese government to open the trial to the public and broadcast the trial online;
2. To urge the Chinese government to allow public attendance of the trial, including the press, lawyers commissioned by the families, and diplomatic envoy;
3. To make enquiries to the Chinese government on the status, well-being and safety of the twelve Hongkongers; and
4. To send embassy personnel to the hearing, guaranteeing a proper and fair trial by the courts in Shenzhen.
The twelve Hongkongers have already spent months in detention cut-off from their families. They have been separated from their loved ones for Christmas, and they would be spending the new year in custody. We urge governments around the world to use their voices to ensure their basic human rights are observed, the proper proceedings of these Hongkongers’ cases and their safe return to Hong Kong.
The twelve Hongkongers being held in Shenzhen:
Families of the twelve Hongkongers