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Riot Control Weapons

Question for Foreign and Commonwealth Office

UIN HL5744, tabled on 16 June 2020

To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the report by Amnesty International Tear Gas: an investigation, published in June, which details examples of tear gas misuse in 22 countries including the territory of Hong Kong; what assessment they have made of the effects of tear gas (1) when fired directly at people in large volumes, (2) in response to peaceful protests, and (3) in confined spaces; what steps can be taken if UN Guidelines on its use are ignored; and what plans they have to press for more effective regulation of the design, trade and use of tear gas.

Answered on

13 July 2020

Whilst the Department of Health Committee on Toxicity has approved the use of CS spray, actions taken by the police or security agencies during protest must be proportionate, necessary and in accordance with guidelines.

The Government takes strategic export control responsibilities seriously. We examine every strategic export application on a case-by-case basis against strict Criteria. We draw on a range of sources in making assessments, including NGOs and international organisations, our diplomatic posts, and reports from our overseas networks. Our export licensing system allows us to respond quickly to changing facts on the ground and we can take action when our assessment changes. The Department for International Trade would not issue a licence if to do so was inconsistent with the Consolidated Criteria. If it was being misused, the Foreign and Commonwealth office would advise them accordingly on export licence applications.

We continue to monitor developments closely, seeking further information where appropriate. As an example, on 25 June 2019, the then Foreign Secretary announced that we would not issue any further export licenses for crowd control equipment to Hong Kong until we are satisfied that concerns raised on human rights and fundamental freedoms have been thoroughly addressed. As we have said repeatedly, we believe the Hong Kong SAR Government should establish a robust and independent investigation into events.