Sanctions on rights abusers in Hong Kong

By Lau Yi-te 劉一德  / 

Thu, Sep 12, 2019 - Page 8

Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam (林鄭月娥) last week announced the withdrawal of proposed amendments to the Fugitive Offenders Ordinance, but the protests against the bill, which would have allowed extraditions to China, has grown to include serveral other human rights issues.

China’s approach to handling the anti-extradition movement has been one of violent suppression, using the police and gangsters to attack protesters indiscriminately and subject them to mass arrests. It is threatening Hong Kongers with a reign of terror that could include invoking the Emergency Regulations Ordinance and bringing in China’s People’s Liberation Army.

The current situation brings to mind the Tiananmen Square Massacre, the forced living organ transplants from Falun Gong practitioners, the concentration camps in Xinjiang, the demolition of temples and churches and forced disappearances of and confessions by dissidents.

Since the mid-20th century, the safeguards for human rights and freedoms laid down in the UN Declaration of Human Rights and the two UN human rights covenants have come to be universal values that are recognized, pursued and put into practice all over the world.

However, some countries, such as China and North Korea, still disregard these standards and subject their own citizens and foreigners alike to barbaric treatment that contravene the principles of democracy, freedom and human rights.

Action should be taken against these abusers. With regard to North Korea, the US enacted the North Korean Human Rights Act, South Korea has a law of the same name and Japan has a similar law.

The US and other nations are considering similar measures with regard to Hong Kong’s pro-democracy movement. US Congress has warned that it might scrap the US-Hong Kong Policy Act, which would mean ending treatment of Hong Kong as a fully autonomous territory with respect to economic and trade matters. It could go further by imposing punitive tariffs on Hong Kong and opposing its membership in the WTO.

Both parties of US Congress have proposed a “Hong Kong Human Rights and Democracy Act” that would require the US government to regularly reassess the extent of Hong Kong’s autonomy and would exact punitive measures against officials responsible for rendering people to mainland China for detention or trial or suppressing basic freedoms in the territory.

These punitive acts might include freezing their US-based assets and denying them entry into the US. The US could also invoke the Global Magnitsky Human Rights Accountability Act to sanction Chinese and Hong Kong officials responsible for human rights abuses.

The UK is particularly concerned about whether the Fugitive Offenders Ordinance complies with the rights and freedoms provided for by the Sino–British Joint Declaration. The UK plans to adopt a human rights accountability law modeled on the Global Magnitsky Act.

Australia, the EU and Germany have warned that they might cancel their extradition agreements with Hong Kong.

Some of these nations have said that say that they oppose Hong Kong amending the Fugitive Offenders Ordinance and support the protesters’ demands. Last month’s G7 summit released a strongly worded declaration of support for the protest movement in Hong Kong.

Taiwan, which is under threat from China’s “Anti-Secession” Law, should refer to the aforementioned laws and draw up a “China, Hong Kong and Macau Human Rights Act” by which it could sanction Chinese and Hong Kong officials and police who abuse human rights.

Lau Yi-te is chairman of the Taiwan Solidarity Union.

Translated by Julian Clegg