China bars international human rights group head from entering Hong Kong

Human Rights Watch executive director Kenneth Roth. Image: Nelson Almeida/AFP via Getty Images.

DHARAMSALA, 14 Jan: China has barred the global head of Human Rights Watch from entering Hong Kong, where he was scheduled to launch the organisation’s latest world report this week, the Guardian reported on Monday.

Kenneth Roth, the group’s executive director was quoted as saying in the report that on Sunday he was blocked at Hong Kong airport from entering for the first time, having entered freely in the past.

Human Rights Watch has described “Beijing’s refusal to allow Roth’s visit and its attempt to justify its actions are sadly in keeping with its responses to international criticism of its human rights record: to try to intimidate the questioners, rather than answer the questions.”

While the Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Geng Shuang has confirmed its barring of Kenneth Roth from entering Hong Kong on Monday and stated that  “Allowing or not allowing someone’s entry is China’s sovereign right,” the rights group has pointed out according to the Basic Law (BL), Hong Kong’s functional constitution, it is the Hong Kong government who decides who is allowed to enter the island.

The New York-based rights group will now scrap its original plan to release its 652-page World Report 2020 at the Foreign Correspondents’ Club in Hong Kong on Wednesday and instead launch the report on Tuesday at the United Nations in   New York, the report said citing a statement released by the organisation. 

“This disappointing action is yet another sign that Beijing is tightening its oppressive grip on Hong Kong and further restricting the limited freedom Hong Kong people enjoy under ‘one country, two systems’,” Roth was quoted as saying in the organisation’s statement.

Kenneth Roth is an American attorney who has been the executive director of Human Rights Watch since 1993. 

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