Parliamentary inquiry urges UK government to act urgently to secure release of Apple Daily publisher Jimmy Lai in Hong Kong

Reporters Without Borders (RSF) welcomes a landmark new parliamentary report urging the UK government to treat the case of Apple Daily publisher and British citizen Jimmy Lai as a political priority and to pressure the Hong Kong authorities to release him.

Following a three-month long enquiry into media freedom in Hong Kong, the All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on Hong Kong said on 24 April that the case against Apple Daily and its proprietor Lai should send “shockwaves around the world”, and criticised the British government for making “barely a whisper” in response to the arrest of a British citizen on

false charges. The report drew heavily on RSF’s written and oral evidence.

“At RSF, we’ve long called out the UK government’s weak response to Jimmy Lai’s detention and other alarming press freedom violations in Hong Kong, so we welcome this parliamentary report underlining the need for swift and decisive action. If the UK government is genuinely committed to press freedom – as it claims to be – it cannot sit back as one of its citizens is condemned to die in jail for publishing independent reporting.

Fiona O’Brien
UK Bureau Director

Among other things, the report calls on the UK government to speak publicly about Lai’s case; to apply targeted sanctions against those responsible for Lai’s arrest and arbitrary detention; to provide Lai with consular support; and to use its seat on the United Nations Human Rights Council to raise his case and those of pro-democracy activists.

The report also advises the UK government to call for the release of the 12 other journalists currently detained in Hong Kong; to pressure the Hong Kong authorities to stop intimidating and harassing journalists and other media staff; to restore full editorial independence at the territory’s public broadcaster Radio Television Hong Kong; and to provide journalists

targeted in Hong Kong with emergency visas, where they do not qualify under the British National Overseas (BNO) scheme.

Noting the UK’s legal and moral obligation to protect the fundamental human rights of Hong Kongers, as guaranteed by the 1984 British-Sino Declaration and international law, the report says: “The current situation in Hong Kong is a glaring violation of the Joint Declaration…Despite the UK’s added responsibility to Hong Kong owing to this Declaration, and to Jimmy Lai, who is a British citizen, the response from the UK government has been minimal, arguably negligent”.

“The UK government, both alone and acting as a leader jointly with other countries, must act to address this situation and enforce the human rights guarantees affirmed in the Joint Declaration, in the case of Jimmy Lai and beyond.”

Lai's son Sebastien Lai was in London for the launch of the report and noted that so far his requests to meet with UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak and Foreign Minister James Cleverly have been rejected.

"My father's case is one of those cases it is easy to get behind morally, as a man who for thirty odd years has stood up for freedom," he told assembled MPs and peers. "[The UK government] has not called for his release at all."

Hong Kong, once a beacon of press freedom in the region, plummeted to 148 th place in RSF’s 2022 World Press Freedom Index, from 18 th place when the Index began in 2002. China itself ranked 175 th of the 180 countries and territories surveyed.


135/ 180
Score : 43.06
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