UK lawmakers call for sanctions against Hong Kong leaders

(NST) – A group of UK lawmakers on Tuesday urged the government to impose sanctions on Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam over human rights abuses by police since pro-democracy protests erupted there.

In a scathing report on the treament of aid workers during the demonstrations in the semi-autonomous Chinese territory, they said Lam, the police commissioner and others should face repercussions.

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

The 12 lawmakers in the All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on Hong Kong said first-aiders, 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 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 pro-democracy 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.

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

The Hong Kong APPG, which is comprised of MPs 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-aiders 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.”