Human rights

Take concerns over Hong Kong’s human rights status to UN, British politicians tell their government

Jailing of pro-democracy activists and disqualification of lawmakers prompt letter to Foreign Secretary urging action against China at Human Rights Council

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 10 July, 2018, 6:31am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 10 July, 2018, 10:21am

Members from both houses of the British Parliament have signed a letter urging their government to raise the “erosion of rule of law and basic freedoms” of Hong Kong in the United Nations.

The UN’s Human Rights Council periodically reviews the status of countries around the world, and the 31 signatories from across the political spectrum want Prime Minister Theresa May’s government to raise China’s approach to the former British colony with the council, as well as through high-level diplomacy.

In a letter addressed to the British Foreign Secretary, and released through Hong Kong Watch, the human rights NGO, the letter said the city’s human rights issues had been neglected in a previous review of China.

They urged the British government to make a recommendation this time around, and said the country had a duty to Hong Kong after the handover in 1997.

The members from the House of Commons and House of Lords cited the high-profile prosecution of pro-democracy activists, including Edward Leung Tin-kei, who was jailed for six years for rioting in Mong Kok, and the National People’s Congress Standing Committee’s interpretation on oath taking in the Basic Law, the city’s mini-constitution, which led to the disqualification of six democratic lawmakers.

“Law is being used by the government of Hong Kong to punitively clamp down on the democracy movement”, the letter read. “The independence of the judiciary may be compromised by Beijing’s increasingly frequent use of their legislative power.

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“Given our obligations under the Sino-British Joint Declaration, we urge you to take the opportunity to bring these developments into the spotlight at the United Nations.”

One-third of the signatories are from the Labour Party, and include former Labour leader to the House of Lords, Janet Royall, former minister of state for education and culture, Tessa Blackstone, and shadow foreign minister, Catherine West.

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Former leader of the Liberal Democrats, Paddy Ashdown, former Liberal Democrat chief whip, David Alton, as well as David Jones, a Conservative MP, have also signed the letter.

The UNHCR’s review is due to take place in November this year, when Hong Kong’s status will be examined in the China sessions.