US law business Davis Polk & Wardwell has been condemned for agreeing to participate in a Hong Kong authorities celebration to commemorate the city’s controversial nationwide security regulation.
Martin Rogers, the firm’s Asia chair, will look at an celebration to mark the 2nd anniversary of the sweeping legislation, which was introduced in response to professional-democracy protests in 2019 and been utilised to crack down on opposition in the city.
The regulation has been invoked to prosecute higher-profile activists and lawmakers like Joshua Wong and media mogul Jimmy Lai. Cardinal Joseph Zen, the territory’s former most senior Roman Catholic cleric, Cantopop singer Denise Ho, barrister Margaret Ng and scholar Hui Po-keung had been arrested underneath the regulation last 7 days.
The Countrywide Stability Legislation Lawful Discussion board on May 28 will involve participation from prime mainland and Hong Kong officials, such as reps from a point out safety agency established up in the town adhering to the protests.
Rogers wrote in a LinkedIn put up that he was “honoured to be invited to speak” as portion of a panel dialogue on scenarios less than the nationwide stability law and explained other sessions as “interesting and important”.
One keynote speech by a senior Chinese official will deal with how the protection legislation has “won the hearts of the people” and set Hong Kong on a path from “chaos to order”.
The occasion has been organised by Hong Kong’s justice department, led by Teresa Cheng, who has been subjected to US sanctions for “undermining Hong Kong’s autonomy and limiting the liberty of expression or assembly of the citizens of Hong Kong”.
Rogers is the only non-public sector lawyer on the general public agenda and critics said his participation could give the perception that his company endorsed the legislation.
“It is no honour . . . Not a great glimpse,” said Donald Clarke, a Chinese law professor at George Washington College Legislation School. “If you truly feel honoured to be talking at these an occasion, you need to significantly rethink your suggestions about what is honourable.”
Samuel Bickett, a US attorney who was pressured out of the territory immediately after getting jailed and accused of assaulting a plainclothes law enforcement officer through the protests, said the event was “blatantly propagandistic”.
“Even a cursory appear at the agenda for this accumulating would have disclosed to Martin Rogers and any person who accepted his involvement that this is a propaganda celebration,” said Bickett, who has denied the accusations and turn into an advocate for authorized legal rights and civil liberties in Hong Kong.
“There is one particular rationale and a single purpose alone that Davis Polk and Martin Rogers were invited: because the presence of a prestigious US law business provides the party a bogus go over of legitimacy . . . Davis Polk ought to pull out of the celebration.”
Davis Polk and Rogers did not quickly answer to a request for comment.
Grenville Cross, a British barrister and previous director of public prosecutions in Hong Kong who will surface together with Rogers at the party, said authorities need to not be “muzzled” from sharing their sights on the protection legislation.
“Was it not Voltaire who explained, I disapprove of what you say, but I will protect to the loss of life your correct to say it? Perhaps those criticising Mr Rogers really should be reminded of that,” he claimed. “The proper of Mr Rogers to freedom of speech ought to be respected.”
The disclosure of Davis Polk’s involvement adopted a separate controversy for US law company Mayer Brown, which was hired previous calendar year by the University of Hong Kong as it tried to eliminate a memorial to the Tiananmen Square massacre from its campus.
The Chicago-dependent organization was intensely criticised by US lawmakers for symbolizing HKU and subsequently withdrew from the job.