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2019-08-13 HKT 18:34
The United Nations has spoken out on anti-extradition protests in Hong Kong, voicing concern about force used against demonstrators and calling for an impartial probe.
The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Michelle Bachelet, is "concerned by the ongoing events in the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region and the escalation of violence that has taken place in recent days," her spokesman Rupert Colville told reporters in Geneva.
The UN rights chief, he said, was calling for a "prompt, independent, impartial investigation" into alleged excessive force by police against the protesters.
The comments came as pro-democracy protesters blocked passengers at Hong Kong's airport on Tuesday, causing further travel chaos a day after triggering an unprecedented shutdown.
Colville said the UN rights office had reviewed "credible evidence of law enforcement officials employing less-lethal weapons in ways that are prohibited by international norms and standards."
He pointed, for instance, to the firing of "tear gas cannisters into crowded, enclosed areas and directly at individual protesters on multiple occasions, creating a considerable risk of death or serious injury."
The UN rights office, he said, was urging Hong Kong authorities to investigate all such incidents "immediately".
Authorities should also "ensure security personnel comply with the rules of engagement, and where necessary, amend the rules of engagement for law enforcement officials in response to protests where these may not conform with international standards," he said.
The spokesman also said Bachelet, who served two terms as Chile's president, condemned any violence or destruction of property by protesters, and "urges everyone participating in the demonstrations to express their views in a peaceful way."
"She calls on the authorities and the people of Hong Kong to engage in an open and inclusive dialogue aimed at resolving all issues peacefully," he said.
"This is the only sure way to achieve long-term political stability and public security by creating channels for people to participate in public affairs and decisions affecting their lives," Colville said, stressing that the right to freedom of expression and peaceful assembly are enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and in Hong Kong law. (AFP)