Human Rights First Welcomes Passage of Two Pro-democracy Bills on Hong Kong
WASHINGTON – On Wednesday, President Donald Trump signed into law two pro-democracy bills created to support human rights and rule of law in Hong Kong. The legislation, which enjoyed overwhelming, bipartisan support in Congress, gives the United States government new powers to sanction Chinese and Hong Kong officials involved in human rights abuses.
It also requires the administration to produce reports on human rights and the rule of law in Hong Kong, directs the State Department not to deny visas to those arrested for protesting in Hong Kong, and to report on Hong Kong’s adherence to laws on sensitive technology that could be used for mass surveillance. The transfer of certain munitions to the Hong Kong police will also be stopped under the new legislation.
“This is a big moment in the history of people power,” said Human Rights First’s Brian Dooley, author of the organization’s latest report on Hong Kong. “Hong Kong’s pro-democracy protestors have not only grabbed international media attention but also secured meaningful support from the U.S. government. This legislation is a huge win for them.”
Protests in Hong Kong have been continuous for sixth months, and local district elections on November 24 delivered a landslide win for candidates aligned with the protestors.
Thousands of people have been arrested during the months of protests, with police accused of widespread abuse. The protests have become increasingly violent of late, and some voicing pro-Beijing views have been violently attacked on the street.
“The new laws are a massively powerful signal to the government and protestors of Hong Kong, and to Beijing. Now they need to be vigorously and fully applied in a push to encourage Hong Kong to reform,” said Dooley.
The protests started earlier this year against legislation which would have allowed the extradition of suspected criminals to mainland China. That legislation has now been withdrawn, but for other demands made by protestors remain: an independent inquiry into police behavior, an amnesty for arrested prisoners, an end to describing the protests as riots, and universal suffrage.