Nearly 70 British lawmakers from various political parties have urged the government to outlaw the use of commonly used CCTV models that have been linked to human rights abuses in China. Along with prominent Labour human rights advocates Baroness Chakrabarti and Baroness Kennedy of the Shaws, former Conservative ministers David Davis MP, Lord Bethell, Steve Baker MP, and Damien Green MP, as well as leader of the Liberal Democrats Sir Ed Davey, SNP Foreign Affairs Spokesperson Alyn Smith, Green MP Caroline Lucas, and crossbench peers, make up the group.
The 67 lawmakers demand a ban on the technology’s usage or sale in the UK as they “condemn [Hikvision and Dahua’s] role in technology-enabled human rights abuses in China.”
They also called for “an independent national review of the scale, capabilities, ethics and rights impact of modern CCTV in the UK”.
Big Brother Watch, a privacy and civil liberties organisation, coordinated the statement, which is also supported by Rene Cassin, Stop Uyghur Genocide, Free Tibet, and Hong Kong Watch, among other rights organisations.
Due to security concerns and evidence of their widespread use in so-called “re-education” camps in Xinjiang, where an estimated 1 million Uyghurs are detained and subjected to abuse, torture, and forced sterilisation, Hikvision and Dahua, which are partially owned by the Chinese government, are now prohibited from doing business in the US. In November of last year, the House of Commons Foreign Affairs Committee urged the UK to impose similar restrictions on Chinese spy agencies.
New research reveals that UK public organisations are giving sizeable contracts to acquire the contentious Chinese-made equipment, despite the fact that the government has declined to take any action. The MPs’ statement comes after a six-month investigation by Big Brother Watch that involved thousands of Freedom of Information requests. Big Brother Watch discovered that the majority of public institutions, including 73 percent of UK councils, 57 percent of secondary schools in England, 6 out of 10 NHS Trusts, UK universities, and police forces, use CCTV cameras made by Hikvision or Dahua.