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September 19, 2019

New Firsthand Report on Unrest in Hong Kong Outlines Ideal U.S. Response

Washington, D.C.—Human Rights First today released a new report outlining what the U.S. government and other American actors should do in response to the unrest in Hong Kong. “Hong Kong’s Fight For the Rule of Law” is based on firsthand interviews with Hong Kong lawyers, law students, academics, and other civil society figures undertaken by Human Rights First earlier this month. Today’s report includes concrete recommendations that Congress, the administration, and the U.S. legal and NGO community can take to advance human rights and the rule of law in Hong Kong. 

"Government officials often complain that it's hard to identify the good guys in a foreign conflict. In Hong Kong, it's simple—the good guys are those protesting for human rights and democracy. Members of Congress should listen to them, visit them, and pass laws to support them," said Brian Dooley, author of today's report.

The report details how public trust in the police is largely broken, and that Hong Kong's society is increasingly polarized by the ongoing unrest. Civil society leaders stressed the need for action from the United States, including through the passage of the Hong Kong Human Rights and Democracy Act of 2019 and the PROTECT Hong Kong Act.

Large-scale protests have swept Hong Kong for more than three months, initially triggered by opposition to legislation that would allow extradition of those suspected of criminal offences to mainland China. In early September, Hong Kong authorities announced that they would withdraw the extradition bill following intense public pressure. However, the legislation was only one of five demands made of the authorities. The four remaining are: an independent inquiry into the use of force by police; amnesty for arrested protesters; an end to describing the protests as riots; and the implementation of universal suffrage. Protestors and lawyers are appealing to the U.S. government to help end the unrest by pressuring the government of Hong Kong to respect the rule of law and defuse tension.  

As Hong Kong’s legal community constitutes a key part of civil society, Human Rights First centered today’s report and its ongoing research on the views and analysis of Hong Kong’s legal community.

"Hong Kong is facing a major crisis, and Congress can take immediate action by passing the two bills local human rights activists want them to. The U.S. government can't control what happens in Hong Kong unilaterally, but it can show whose side it's on, and what it's prepared to do to help," added Dooley.

For more information or to speak with Dooley, contact Christopher Plummer at [email protected] or 202-370-3310.