IAPL: Hong Kong lawyers’ group to investigate allegations against member wanted by national security police

A Hong Kong lawyers’ group has said it is investigating allegations related to one of its members who is among the eight overseas activists wanted by national security police.

In a statement issued on Thursday, The Law Society of Hong Kong’s president Chan Chak-ming said it had “received complaints about the relevant acts of the member.”

The announcement came after national security police issued arrest warrants on Monday for eight self-exiled activists, offering a HK$1 million bounty for each of the wanted people. They were said to have “seriously violated the national security offences, called for sanctions against local officials and schemed for foreign countries to undermine Hong Kong’s financial status.”

Melbourne-based solicitor Kevin Yam, who is among the eight, said in a tweet on Thursday that he was the member that The Law Society was referring to in its statement.

When HKFP searched the Law Society website’s list of members on Thursday morning, Yam could not be found. A cached version of the page from Monday still listed Yam’s details.

The group said it had begun investigating the allegations in accordance with legal practice standards and professional conduct guidelines for solicitors, Chan added.

Yam was a co-founder of the Progressive Lawyers Group, which was vocal on legal and political issues such as the city’s human rights and judicial independence. It disbanded in 2021, alongside dozens of other groups, in the wake of the national security law.

The other seven named by police were ex-lawmakers Ted Hui and Dennis Kwok; activists Nathan Law, Anna Kwok, Elmer Yuen, Mung Siu-tat and Finn Lau.

China’s top legislative body passed a national security law in Hong Kong in June 2020 after months of protests and unrests against a controversial extradition law. It criminalised subversion, secession, collusion with foreign forces and terrorist acts, which were broadly defined to include disruption to transport and other infrastructure.

The move gave police sweeping new powers, alarming democrats, civil society groups and trade partners, as such laws have been used broadly to silence and punish dissidents in China. However, the authorities say it has restored stability and peace to the city.

Offences of ‘a serious nature’
In its statement, The Law Society said the purpose of the security law was to safeguard national security, and that offences under it were of “a serious nature.”

“The Law Society will endeavour to process the complaint as soon as practicable in accordance with established procedures, where permitted by law and regulations,” Chan said, adding that “the aforementioned case has caused great public concern.”