On the Political Persecution of Hong Kong Democracy Advocates

Michael R. Pompeo, Secretary of State

The United States is appalled by the Hong Kong government’s political persecution of Hong Kong’s courageous pro-democracy advocates. The use of courts to silence peaceful dissent is a hallmark of authoritarian regimes and underscores once again that the Chinese Communist Party’s greatest fear is the free speech and free thinking of its own people.

Hong Kong historically benefitted from a free and open system that celebrated the peaceful advocacy of citizens like Joshua Wong, Agnes Chow, Ivan Lam, and Jimmy Lai. Hong Kong’s people should be free to exercise the rights guaranteed to them under the Basic Law; the Sino-British Joint Declaration, a UN-registered treaty; and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Their struggle to resist the CCP’s denial of their fundamental rights will stand throughout history as a testament to the human spirit.

The United States will continue to work with our allies and partners around the world to champion the rights and freedoms of the people of Hong Kong and all those who suffer under the CCP’s repressive rule. We stand with Joshua Wong, Agnes Chow, Ivan Lam, Jimmy Lai, the people of Hong Kong, and all the people of China.

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For example, State officials told GAO that they have added language to all notices for countering wildlife trafficking awards that requires implementing partners to include social safeguards plans in their projects. The plans will articulate an understanding of how their work could negatively affect local communities. USAID officials stated that USAID has included provisions in new agreements with FWS that require adherence to the congressional directives. FWS officials also confirmed that they are cooperating with USAID in these efforts. Implementing partners—WWF, the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS), and African Parks (AP)—have all conducted investigations to address allegations of human rights abuses by park rangers, according to officials from these organizations. They have also developed grievance mechanisms to report human rights abuses. For example, WWF has received 50 complaints in roughly the past year related to its project work, according to WWF representatives. WWF has responded to complaints of human rights abuses through this mechanism by reporting the allegations to relevant authorities and meeting with community representatives. U.S. agencies provide training and equipment for park rangers overseas to combat wildlife trafficking. From fiscal years 2014 through 2020, the U.S. government provided approximately $554 million to undertake a range of activities through federal agencies and in cooperation with implementing partner organizations in the field. Multiple non-governmental organization and media reports, however, have alleged that organizations that have received U.S. funds have supported park rangers engaged in combating wildfire trafficking who have committed human rights violations since the mid-2000s. GAO was asked to review human rights protection mechanisms related to U.S. efforts to combat wildlife trafficking. This report examines 1) what enforcement mechanisms agencies have to prevent U.S. funded efforts to combat wildlife trafficking from supporting human rights abuses and how they implement them, and 2) how agencies and implementing partners address allegations of human rights abuses. GAO spoke with agency officials and implementing partner representatives locally in person and overseas by phone, and collected and analyzed information related to program implementation. For more information, contact Kimberly Gianopoulos at (202) 512-8612 or gianopoulosk@gao.gov.
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    In Crime News
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