British human rights activist Benedict Rogers is to launch a new advocacy organisation focused on Hong Kong with support from renowned UK political figures.

London-based Hong Kong Watch will monitor human rights, freedoms and rule of law in Hong Kong.

The group has the support of patrons from across the political spectrum, including former Foreign Secretary Sir Malcolm Rifkind QC, former Labour Shadow Foreign Minister Catherine West MP, former Liberal Democrat leader Lord Paddy Ashdown, independent cross-bencher Lord David Alton, and former prosecutor of Slobodan Milosevic, barrister Sir Geoffrey Nice QC.

Benedict Rogers
Benedict Rogers. Photo: Facebook/Hong Kong Cultural & Political Forum.

Some of the patrons were the co-signatories of a statement condemning Hong Kong’s jailing of pro-democracy activists Joshua Wong, Nathan Law, and Alex Chow.

An official launch event, hosted by the Speaker of the House of Commons John Bercow, will be held at the UK Parliament on December 11.

See also: In Full: Top int’l lawyers condemn Hong Kong’s jailing of democracy activists as ‘a serious threat to the rule of law’

The group said there are concerns over Hong Kong’s autonomy, universal freedoms and democratic reforms in Hong Kong, which are under threat. It will research the status of the city’s freedoms and raise concerns with the UK government and the wider international community, should violations of the rights and freedoms enshrined in the Basic Law and the Sino-British Joint Declaration take place.

Malcolm Rifkind
Malcolm Rifkind. Photo: Wikimedia Commons.

Rogers, who was denied entry into Hong Kong three weeks ago, will be the chairman of trustees at Hong Kong Watch. Rogers has maintained he was on a private visit, but it became apparent that the Chinese government did not welcome him and instructed the Hong Kong government – which exercises its own immigration policies – to bar him from entering.

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“We believe that an international NGO to monitor and report on the worsening situation in Hong Kong is much-needed and long overdue. Based in London, our aim is to be international, a voice in the United Kingdom and other capitals around the world,” said Rogers.

Lord Paddy Ashdown, the former leader of the Liberal Democrats, said China has a responsibility to live up to its promises and obligations to Hong Kong.

“Britain has a responsibility to Hong Kong too, to monitor and speak out for Hong Kong’s way of life,” he said. “Hong Kong Watch is being established to monitor, research and advocate in defence of Hong Kong’s freedoms, autonomy and rule of law and to urge both China and Britain to fulfil its obligations under the Joint Declaration.”

Joshua Wong and Nathan Law.
Joshua Wong and Nathan Law. Photo: Kris Cheng/HKFP.

Lord Alton, an independent crossbench peer and leading voice for human rights, said Britain had specific moral and legal responsibilities to Hong Kong, as the SAR’s freedoms and autonomy are threatened: “I am delighted to be a Patron of Hong Kong Watch, having first visited Hong Kong as a young Member of Parliament representing the city of Liverpool with its vibrant connections to Hong Kong, and having met in recent months some of the brave young campaigners for democracy in Hong Kong, Joshua Wong and Nathan Law.”

Kris Cheng is a Hong Kong journalist with an interest in local politics. His work has been featured in Washington Post, Public Radio International, Hong Kong Economic Times and others. He has a BSSc in Sociology from the Chinese University of Hong Kong. Kris is HKFP's Editorial Director.