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HONG KONG: Arrest of US lawyer John Clancey

06 January 2021

Mr. Clancey was arrested on the morning of January 6, 2021 in his office in application of the new security law adopted last June. The police also carried out a search of his premises.

John Clancey is an American human rights lawyer with a longstanding residence in Hong Kong, practising with Ho Tse Wai and Partners. He is also Chairman of the Asian Human Rights Commission, the Secretary for International Affairs of the China Human Rights Lawyers Concern Group Council and the Treasurer of Power for Democracy.

Power for Democracy is the political party that initiated an unofficial vote to nominate an opposition candidate for the July 2020 legislative elections. On Wednesday, January 6, 2021, the police arrested about fifty pro-democracy activists linked to this vote, including John Clancey. These arrests are reminiscent of the arrests and incommunicado detention of hundreds of lawyers specialising in the defence of human rights in mainland China in July 2015.

On Tuesday 30 June 2020, China passed the National Security Law in Hong Kong following pro-democracy protests in 2019 and 2020. According to the Hong Kong authorities, this law would notably make it possible to repress subversive activities, secession, terrorism and collusion with foreign forces.

However, since its adoption, the Hong Kong authorities have made extensive use of this law in order to repress the opposition and pro-democratic movements.

The OIAD strongly denounces these clear violations of human rights expression.

The OIAD calls on the Hong Kong authorities to immediately release Mr. John Clancey.

The OIAD would like to remind the Hong Kong authorities that under the United Nations Basic Principles on the Role of Lawyers (1990):

«23. Lawyers like other citizens are entitled to freedom of expression, belief, association and assembly. In particular, they shall have the right to take part in public discussion of matters concerning the law, the administration of justice and the promotion and protection of human rights and to join or form local, national or international organizations and attend their meetings, without suffering professional restrictions by reason of their lawful action or their membership in a lawful organization. In exercising these rights, lawyers shall always conduct themselves in accordance with the law and the recognized standards and ethics of the legal profession.»

Update 13/01/21: John Clancey has been released on bail pending possible prosecution. The Hong Kong authorities confiscated his American passport, depriving him of any exit from the country.