Spokesperson for the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights: Rupert Colville
Date: 13 August 2019
Subject: Hong Kong, China
The High Commissioner is concerned by the ongoing events in the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (Hong Kong SAR) and the escalation of violence that has taken place in recent days.
The High Commissioner condemns any form of violence or destruction of property and urges everyone participating in the demonstrations to express their views in a peaceful way. She notes the Chief Executive’s commitment to “engage as widely as possible” and to “listen to the grievances of the people of Hong Kong.” She calls on the authorities and the people of Hong Kong to engage in an open and inclusive dialogue aimed at resolving all issues peacefully. This is the only sure way to achieve long-term political stability and public security by creating channels for people to participate in public affairs and decisions affecting their lives.
The rights of freedom of expression and peaceful assembly and the right to participate in public affairs are expressly recognized in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, as well as the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights which is incorporated in the Basic Law of the Hong Kong SAR.
The UN Human Rights Office has reviewed credible evidence of law enforcement officials employing less-lethal weapons in ways that are prohibited by international norms and standards. For example, officials can be seen firing tear gas canisters into crowded, enclosed areas and directly at individual protesters on multiple occasions, creating a considerable risk of death or serious injury. The Office would urge the Hong Kong SAR authorities to investigate these incidents immediately, to ensure security personnel comply with the rules of engagement, and where necessary, amend the rules of engagement for law enforcement officials in response to protests where these may not conform with international standards.
The Office urges the Hong Kong SAR authorities to act with restraint, to ensure that the right of those who are expressing their views peacefully are respected and protected, while ensuring that the response by law enforcement officials to any violence that may take place is proportionate and in conformity with international standards on the use of force, including the principles of necessity and proportionality.
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