The United Nations is backing an independent investigation into police tactics against protesters in Hong Kong, according to a statement from the U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights.
“The UN Human Rights Office has reviewed credible evidence of law enforcement officials employing less-lethal weapons in ways that are prohibited by international norms and standards,” Commissioner Michelle Bachelet said.
Bachelet’s statement cites incidents in which police have fired tear gas canisters into enclosed areas or directly at individual demonstrators.
“The Office urges the Hong Kong SAR authorities to act with restraint, to ensure that the right of those who are expressing their views peacefully are respected and protected, while ensuring that the response by law enforcement officials to any violence that may take place is proportionate” and complies with international standards, she added.
The protests in the city began months ago in response to a bill that would have allowed the extradition of some criminal suspects to the Chinese mainland.
Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam has since suspended the bill and declared it “dead,” but protests have persisted, with demonstrators both calling for Lam’s resignation and expressing concerns about the erosion of the city’s autonomy from Beijing.
They have also called for an independent probe into the conduct of police, who in addition to their tactics in response to the protests failed to prevent a group of men with ties to organized crime from assaulting protesters in a subway station. Police have since made six arrests in connection with the assaults.
Bachelet “calls on the authorities and the people of Hong Kong to engage in an open and inclusive dialogue aimed at resolving all issues peacefully,” the statement reads.
“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.”