June 30 (UPI) -- Hong Kong's National Security Law overrides existing protections in the city against civil rights violations and has led to more than 100 arrests since it was enacted a year ago, according to Amnesty International.
"In one year, the National Security Law has put Hong Kong on a rapid path to becoming a police state and created a human rights emergency for the people living there," said Yamini Mishra, Amnesty International's Asia-Pacific regional director.
"From politics to culture, education to media, the law has infected every part of Hong Kong society and fomented a climate of fear that forces residents to think twice about what they say, what they tweet and how they live their lives," Mishra said.
"Ultimately, this sweeping and repressive legislation threatens to make the city a human rights wasteland increasingly resembling mainland China."
Amnesty also said the law casts a long shadow over Hong Kong's existing laws designed to safeguard civil rights.
"There is clear evidence indicating that the so-called human rights safeguards set out in the NSL are effectively useless, while the protections existing in regular Hong Kong law are also trumped by it," the group said.
Hong Kong authorities have arrested hundreds of protesters since the law went into effect. Among those arrested 118 people have been detained for security law violations, according to Amnesty International.
Press freedoms came under attack this month when local authorities ordered the shutdown of newspaper Apple Daily and the arrests of its editor and top executives.
China's foreign ministry condemned the Amnesty International report Wednesday.
Chinese spokesman Wang Wenbin said the human rights watchdog had engaged in "malicious, deliberate smears and distortion of facts."
Hong Kong society has been "brought back to the right track" because of the law, Wang said.
The security law punishes activities considered "terrorism" and "collusion with foreign forces." Advocating for Hong Kong's independence can lead to life imprisonment.