A cross-party parliamentary group in the United Kingdom has launched an inquiry into possible violations of rights and humanitarian principles against medical workers and activists by the Hong Kong police.

The inquiry from an All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on Hong Kong will gather evidence on abuse allegations for scrutiny by international lawyers and human rights experts. The findings and recommendations will be presented to Downing Street as evidence of whether or not police actions have violated rights guaranteed under international law.

Police arrest medics outside PolyU on November 17. Photo: Telegram.

Chaired by MP Alistair Carmichael and Baroness Bennett of Manor Castle, the APPG was founded last November, with the aim of promoting democracy, the rule of law and human rights in the former colony, as well as nurturing Hong Kong-UK relations.

Natalie Bennett said at the inquiry’s launch on Tuesday that the report aims to act as a resource for informing the actions governments, rights bodies and campaigners: “More needs to be done to protect Hongkongers, professionals who care for the injured, as well as the 33,733 UK nationals currently [residing] in the city.”

“Many disturbing reports have emerged in personal accounts, through social and conventional media, and there is global concern both about what is happening to Hong Kong and the damage done to international norms and standards,” she added.

The APPG said it might invite individuals to act as oral witnesses in a closed-door session at the UK parliament. It added that it will look into whether police actions have constituted a breach of the Sino-British Joint Declaration and Basic Law.

Mass protests erupted last June over a now-axed extradition bill that would have allowed fugitive transfers to mainland China. The unrest has escalated into sometimes violent displays of dissent against police behaviour and Beijing’s encroachment, amid calls for democratic reform.

Campaigners from NGO Hong Kong Watch and crowdfunding group Stand with Hong Kong welcomed the probe.

A spokesperson for Stand with Hong Kong said that the inquiry was a needed response to threats against medical workers at protests: “This inquiry marks an important shift in the British government’s approach to addressing human rights abuses in Hong Kong and to defending the city’s rights and freedoms that are guaranteed under the Basic Law and the Sino-British Joint Declaration.”

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Rachel Wong

Rachel Wong previously worked as a documentary producer and academic researcher. She has a BA in Comparative Literature and European Studies from the University of Hong Kong. She has contributed to A City Made by People and The Funambulist, and has an interest in cultural journalism and gender issues.