According to Hong Kong-based newspaper Wen Wei Po, Paul Harris, a renowned international human rights expert and former chairman of the Hong Kong Bar Association, was interviewed by the Hong Kong police’s National Security Division on March 1. The police asked him to make a “cautionary statement” and explain his alleged Hong Kong National Security law violation.
Harris entered the Wanchai Police Headquarters at around 11:00 a.m. on March 1, with two other men in suits. A reporter described him as “always frowning, looking up from time to time” in the report room. Later, Paul left the police station at 13.00 without responding to questions from reporters at the scene.
Wen Wei Po reported that Harris showed up at the airport around 7.30 p.m. the same day. After finishing the check-in procedure, Harris and his family rushed to the restricted area. However, he refused to answer questions from the newspaper’s reporter.
His departure was reportedly related to the “Hong Kong Human Rights Monitor” (HKHRM) for the alleged violation of the Hong Kong National Security Law. The HKHRM, founded by Paul 27 years ago, was established to monitor the Hong Kong government’s laws, policies, and activities and defend and promote human rights.
Paul Harris, also known as Xia Boyi, was the founder of the Human Rights Committee of England and Wales. He was elected as president of the Hong Kong Bar Association, a professional body representing Hong Kong’s 1,500 barristers, in January 2021. Paul stood down from his position in January 2022. He is considered an expert in international human rights issues, a practicing barrister in England, and a senior barrister in Hong Kong.
After taking office, Paul has made several outspoken remarks that have attracted society’s attention and China’s state media.
In his first media interview with Stand News since taking office on Jan. 24, 2021, he agreed with the opinion that the Hong Kong National Security Law was “disgraceful” and “disgusting.”
Paul pointed out that the “Hong Kong National Security Law” has just been implemented in Hong Kong for half a year. Still, nearly 100 people have been arrested for crimes related to national security. He said that the National Security Law was designed to remove Hong Kong’s freedom and had nothing to do with maintaining public order.
The barrister was concerned that the Hong Kong Committee for Safeguarding National Security’s decision and the Office for Safeguarding National Security’s personnel management would not be subject to interference by the jurisdiction of Hong Kong under articles 14 and 60 of the National Security Law.
He said that the meaning of the article was that they could kidnap people at will, all without legal consequences, not to mention beatings, theft, invasion of homes, any of that.
Paul’s outspoken style has made him an attack target by the Chinese Communist Party’s mouthpiece since he became Bar Association chairman.
On April 25, 2021, the Liaison Office of the Central People’s Government in the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region called Xia Boyi an “anti-China politician,” and “serving the eyes of lawbreakers.”
Paul responded by saying that he was neither “anti-China” nor a “politician.”
He also said that he had always opposed all kinds of violence, both by the demonstrators and the police.
He reiterated that the Bar Association was not a political organization, but it inevitably touched on sensitive political issues when taking appropriate actions and speaking out.