Hong Kong Government refuses to answer questions from United Nations experts on the use of chemical agents during demonstrations

Hong Kong Government refuses to answer questions from United Nations experts on the use of chemical agents during demonstrations

3 April 2020

Hong Kong – The Hong Kong Government has failed to reply to the concerns raised over the use of chemical agents in a formal letter from the Special Rapporteur on hazardous substances and the Special Rapporteur on the freedom of peaceful assembly and of association. The letter was issued based on a communication submitted by Hong Kong Human Rights Monitor, the Public Health Research Collaborative and Civil Rights Observer,.

The Special Rapporteurs have found that there are reasons to believe that tear gas, pepper spray and other chemical agents have been used indiscriminately, unnecessarily and disproportionately, violating international and Hong Kong principles on the use of force.

Claudia Yip of Hong Kong Human Rights Monitor thanks the two Special Rapporteurs for taking speedy action after receiving the urgent appeal. The Hong Kong Government should answer the questions raised in the communication, and promise to cease the violations and make improvements immediately. Other than pressing the Hong Kong Government to comply with its human rights obligations, the Monitor will also follow up on human rights responsibilities of businesses that supply crowd control weapons to Hong Kong. They will urge the suppliers to disclose chemical contents and user guidelines of tear gas etc sold to Hong Kong, and to suspend all sales to Hong Kong police until the force has taken measures to prevent further violations of rights when using those weapons. Claudia thanks Hong Kong people for their perseverance in the pursuit for truth and justice. Allegations in the urgent appeal are backed by evidence collected and analysed by the local community. The solid report allowed the Special Rapporteurs to act quickly and assertively.

Dorothy Lui from the Public Health Research Collaborative commented, “The correspondence from the United Nations Special Rapporteurs is a solid proof that even international experts are concerned about the use of chemical weapons by the Hong Kong Government during the anti-extradition bill movement. The Hong Kong Government should cease avoidance from the doubts the international community has over the compositions of chemical weapons, related medical guidance, systematic monitoring of the effects on population health and measures to remove chemical residues in the environment. There is an urgent need to make this information available to the public in order to holistically protect the health of the Hong Kong population and mitigate the effects of future conflicts.”

“The Hong Kong Police Force travelled to Geneva in March to promote themselves and condemn so-called ‘rioters’ in the Human Rights Council session. However, when Special Rapporteurs formally ask the government about their use of chemical agents, they ignore the questions. The Hong Kong Government disrespects these human rights mandate holders and gives a biased story at the United Nations, evading accountability. Civil Rights Observer will continue to inform the international community of the human rights violations in Hong Kong,” said Icarus Wong and Andrew Shum from Civil Rights Observers.

Note to the editor: The letter issued by the Special Rapporteur can be found at: https://spcommreports.ohchr.org/TMResultsBase/DownLoadPublicCommunicationFile?gId=25048