US law firm Davis Polk & Wardwell has been condemned for agreeing to take part in a Hong Kong governing administration event to commemorate the city’s controversial nationwide stability legislation.
Martin Rogers, the firm’s Asia chair, will appear at an function to mark the second anniversary of the sweeping regulation, which was introduced in response to pro-democracy protests in 2019 and been utilized to crack down on opposition in the metropolis.
The regulation has been invoked to prosecute higher-profile activists and lawmakers including Joshua Wong and media mogul Jimmy Lai. Cardinal Joseph Zen, the territory’s previous most senior Roman Catholic cleric, Cantopop singer Denise Ho, barrister Margaret Ng and scholar Hui Po-keung were being arrested less than the regulation last week.
The Countrywide Protection Regulation Legal Forum on May 28 will include participation from major mainland and Hong Kong officers, together with representatives from a point out stability agency set up in the metropolis adhering to the protests.
Rogers wrote in a LinkedIn put up that he was “honoured to be invited to speak” as section of a panel discussion on conditions below the national protection law and described other sessions as “interesting and important”.
One particular keynote speech by a senior Chinese formal will deal with how the protection regulation has “won the hearts of the people” and set Hong Kong on a route from “chaos to order”.
The event has been organised by Hong Kong’s justice division, led by Teresa Cheng, who has been subjected to US sanctions for “undermining Hong Kong’s autonomy and proscribing the freedom of expression or assembly of the citizens of Hong Kong”.
Rogers is the only private sector law firm on the community agenda and critics reported his participation could give the effect that his agency endorsed the regulation.
“It is no honour . . . Not a fantastic glimpse,” stated Donald Clarke, a Chinese regulation professor at George Washington University Law Faculty. “If you feel honoured to be talking at these an occasion, you require to critically rethink your suggestions about what is honourable.”
Samuel Bickett, a US attorney who was forced out of the territory right after becoming jailed and accused of assaulting a plainclothes law enforcement officer throughout the protests, claimed the function was “blatantly propagandistic”.
“Even a cursory search at the agenda for this accumulating would have uncovered to Martin Rogers and any individual who accepted his involvement that this is a propaganda party,” mentioned Bickett, who has denied the accusations and turn out to be an advocate for authorized legal rights and civil liberties in Hong Kong.
“There is 1 purpose and a person reason alone that Davis Polk and Martin Rogers have been invited: for the reason that the presence of a prestigious US law firm presents the celebration a untrue go over of legitimacy . . . Davis Polk must pull out of the celebration.”
Davis Polk and Rogers did not straight away respond to a ask for for comment.
Grenville Cross, a British barrister and former director of general public prosecutions in Hong Kong who will seem alongside Rogers at the event, mentioned industry experts should not be “muzzled” from sharing their views on the security law.
“Was it not Voltaire who said, I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the demise your right to say it? Potentially people criticising Mr Rogers must be reminded of that,” he reported. “The suitable of Mr Rogers to flexibility of speech need to be respected.”
The disclosure of Davis Polk’s involvement followed a separate controversy for US legislation company Mayer Brown, which was employed very last calendar year by the University of Hong Kong as it attempted to take out a memorial to the Tiananmen Square massacre from its campus.
The Chicago-based company was seriously criticised by US lawmakers for representing HKU and subsequently withdrew from the part.