Sanctions loom as cops draw UK fire

Local | Maisy Mok 5 Aug 2020

The treatment of first-aiders by Hong Kong police and its interference with medical operations at hospitals have resulted in injured protesters not receiving required medical care in time or at all during last year's social unrest, according to a report from British members of parliament.

Natalie Bennette, cochairwoman of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Hong Kong, said the police had violated international humanitarian law and human rights standards.

Officers had breached the Sino-British Joint Declaration that enshrines humanitarian rights, principles and laws, Bennett said, with all humanitarian workers, including first-aiders, nurses and doctors protected under international humanitarian laws.

The group published an 80-page report yesterday, which found that the police force has mistreated humanitarian aid workers during last year's social unrest.

It collected around 1,000 pieces of oral and photo evidence from hundreds of people after launching its probe on March 9.

An inquiry team also conducted oral hearings with 10 witnesses between May 27 and June 5 this year.

The report showed that first-aiders had been detained, arrested, as well as frequently subject to verbal abuse and pepper-sprayed during protests.

Incidents saw officers intentionally deter medical personnel from providing first aid at conflict zones, the report said.

For example, it said that on October 7 in 2019, a pregnant woman arrested in Tuen Mun requested to be sent to the hospital as she showed signs of being in labor.

However, the police initially refused.

Later at the maternity ward of Tuen Mun Hospital, a male officer ignored being blocked access by medical staff and entered the ward as she was putting on a patient gown.

The report also found no evidence to suggest that medics were involved in the hostilities - contesting police justifications to strip them of the protections otherwise available to humanitarian aid workers.

Its suggestions to the UK government included imposing sanctions on those responsible for permitting the excessive police violence at high level in the administration, including Chief Executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor and police commissioner Chris Tang Ping-keung.

It urged London to ensure that British National (Overseas) citizenship immigration policies are not applicable for those who encouraged and endorsed the law, or supported and condoned police violence.

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