UK lawmakers call for sanctions against Hong Kong leaders

UK lawmakers call for sanctions against Hong Kong leaders

Riot police in Hong Kong fire tear gas to disperse anti-national security law protesters.
Riot police in Hong Kong fire tear gas to disperse anti-national security law protesters on the Jul 1 anniversary of the city's handover from Britain to China. (Photo: Reuters/Tyrone Siu)

LONDON: A group of UK lawmakers on Tuesday (Aug 4) urged the government to impose sanctions on Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam over human rights abuses by police since protests erupted in the city.

In a scathing report on the treatment of aid workers during the demonstrations in Hong Kong, they said Lam, the police commissioner and others should face repercussions.

The report found humanitarian staff have been subjected to intimidation, harassment, threats, physical violence and arrests during the upheaval that has engulfed the former British colony since last year.

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The 12 lawmakers in the All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on Hong Kong said first-aid workers, as well as doctors and nurses, received treatment that "fell short of international humanitarian law and principles".

"The UK should urgently impose Magnitsky-style sanctions on those responsible for permitting the excessive police violence ... including but not limited to Chief Executive Carrie Lam and the Commissioner of Police," they said in the 80-page report.

Britain last month sanctioned 49 accused human rights violators, including 25 Russians who were allegedly involved in the 2009 death of Kremlin critic and lawyer Sergei Magnitsky.

The lawmakers' new report also called on Britain to lead efforts to establish an "independent mechanism to investigate the situation in Hong Kong", through international bodies such as the United Nations.

Huge demonstrations have swept Hong Kong since last year, leading to often violent confrontations with police and more than 9,000 arrests.

Britain, which returned control of the territory to China in 1997 on the basis of a joint declaration guaranteeing freedoms until 2047, has criticised the heavy-handed crackdown.

READ: UK details path to citizenship for Hong Kong applicants

But Beijing responded to the persistent protests by unilaterally imposing a national security law in June, sparking further criticism in Washington and London.

The Hong Kong APPG, which comprises Members of Parliament and House of Lords members from across the British political spectrum, released its report – The Shrinking Safe Space for Humanitarian Aid Workers in Hong Kong – following a five-month inquiry.

It said their brutal treatment had impacted the ability to provide medical assistance to injured protesters, and physically and psychologically harmed the first-aid workers themselves.

The inquiry found no evidence of their involvement in the violence between protesters and police that could justify "stripping them of the protections otherwise available to humanitarian aid workers".

Source: AFP/dv