STATEMENT: Hong Kong Watch condemns ban on face masks and use of emergency powers
Hong Kong Watch condemn ban on face masks and use of emergency powers
The ban on face masks is a serious breach of freedom of assembly and the right to protest. However, the use of the Emergency Regulations Ordinance should be a far greater concern. The use of this outdated colonial era law, for the first time in more than fifty years, is potentially the start of a very dangerous slippery slope.
The law allows the city's leader to make “any regulations whatsoever”. The banning of masks is unlikely to stop protests, and adding another unjust law is not going to stop protest. And so it is likely that this will lead to further draconian legislation being enacted in the coming weeks. This dramatic escalation could seriously damage Hong Kong's international reputation.
The international community must immediately signal how outrageous this act is. The US Congress should expedite consideration of the Hong Kong Human Rights and Democracy Act, and the United Kingdom government should consider every possible course of action including Magnitsky sanctions and the extension of the rights of British National Overseas Passport holders. The use of the Emergency Regulations Ordinance in this context is a clear breach of the Sino-British Joint Declaration.