UK must make Hong Kong’s freedoms and rule of law a top priority: MPs and Peers

More than 30 Parliamentarians have united to ask the UK Foreign Secretary to make the rule of law and basic freedoms a top priority in diplomatic relations with Hong Kong.

In a letter to the Foreign Secretary, a cross-party group of MPs and Lords said:

“We are asking you to act because the Sino-British Joint Declaration provides the UK with the legal obligation to monitor and promote Hong Kong’s rule of law and basic freedom until the end of the handover period in 2047.”  

Liberal Democrats, Conservatives, Labour Party Members, and DUP Members signed the letter. They highlighted that the rule of law and freedoms are in the interests of international trade:

“Our long-standing trading relationship with Hong Kong has flourished because ‘one-country, two-systems’ provides much-needed transparency and fair play for businesses operating in the region, alongside essential protections of the fundamental freedoms which sets apart Hong Kong as ‘Asia’s World City’.”

They raised concerns about the erosion of rule of law and basic freedoms, highlighting concerns that “the independence of the judiciary may be compromised by Beijing’s increasingly frequent use of their interpretative powers” and that “law is being used by the government of Hong Kong to punitively clamp down on the democracy movement in Hong Kong.”

Among the individual cases that were highlighted were the disqualification of lawmakers and candidates from running for legislative council election; the sentencing of lawmakers for ‘illegal assembly’ inside the Legislative Council; and the use of the Public Order Ordinance in the case of Edward Leung.

The Parliamentarians called on the UK to raise the matter through ‘high-level diplomacy’ and publicly through the Universal Periodic Review process. They said:

“We ask that you raise these concerns through high-level diplomacy and publicly by issuing a recommendation at the United Nations Universal Periodic Review. The Universal Periodic Review is a powerful opportunity to bring human rights into the spotlight. In China’s previous review, Hong Kong’s human rights issues were neglected. Following this recent crackdown, the same must not be true this time. 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.”

 

You can find the text of the joint letter below

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