China: new laws to let police crackdown on foreign organisations

Helena Kennedy QC

Chinese police will potentially be able to crackdown on not-for-profit organisations who are a thorn in the authorities’ side after new rules are brought in next year.

International lawyers have warned that the “Law on the Administration of Activities by Foreign Non-Governmental Organisations”, due to come into force early next year, is of “grave concern”.

Campaigners from the Human Rights Institute of the London-based International Bar Association said it would bring in “onerous regulatory requirements on overseas not-for-profit organisations wishing to operate in China”, bringing “their activities under the control of the Ministry of Public Security”.

The institute said police officers would gain extensive powers to raid premises of organisations in order to seize documents and scrutinise finances – all without judicial oversight.

It would also allow officers to detain foreign NGO staff for as many as 15 days if their activities were thought to threaten national interest or security.

Chair of the IBA institute, Baroness Kennedy QC, said: “The foreign NGO law represents a regressive step in China’s commitment to the rule of law and risks denying China the benefit of international partnerships that can greatly facilitate the advancement of human rights and the rule of law.”

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