The UK’s CCTV watchdog has criticised a Chinese firm for not saying if its cameras are used in Uyghur internment camps.
Professor Fraser Sampson said, “If your company wasn’t involved in such awful places wouldn’t it be very keen for you to say so?”
According to MPs, Hikvision was the primary camera technology used by Uyghur internment camp guards in July.
According to the company, it respects human rights.
On 8 July, MPs on the foreign affairs committee published a report which said: “Cameras made by the Chinese firm Hikvision have been deployed throughout Xinjiang, and provide the primary camera technology used in the internment camps”.
Over a million Uyghurs, and other minorities, are believed to have been held in camps located in the northern-west region of Xinjiang. There, allegations of torture, forced labor, and sexual abuse were made.
China denied these allegations, claiming that the camps were “reeducation” facilities meant to fight terrorism.
Hikvision should not be allowed to operate in the UK, according to the foreign affairs committee.
In June, President Biden signed an executive order prohibiting US investments in Hikvision.
Hikvision cameras can be found all over the UK.
In a letter sent to “partners” after the report’s publication, Hikvision wrote that the committee’s accusations were “unsubstantiated and not underpinned by evidence”.
The suggestion to ban cigarettes was called a knee-jerk reaction…disproportionate and ill-measured. This reinforces the idea that it is driven by political influence.
On 16 July, Professor Sampson, the UK Biometrics and Surveillance Camera Commissioner, followed up that response, asking the company if it accepted that crimes are being committed against the Uyghurs and other ethnic groups in Xinjiang.
In a reply sent this week, Justin Hollis, Hikvision’s Marketing Director for UK & Ireland, wrote: “It is beyond our capability to make a judgement on this matter, particularly against a backdrop where the debate surrounding the Xinjiang issue comes with clashing geopolitical views.”
According to the firm, it is difficult to answer “narrowly pointed questions” on paper. They fear what they call a “kangaroo court by media”.
The report stated that Pierre-Richard Prosper (ex-US Ambassador at Large for War Crimes Issues) had prepared an independent report that concluded that Hikvision did not enter into five projects in Xinjiang in the intention to commit human rights violations. It also said that Hikvision didn’t knowingly, intentionally or knowingly cause human rights violations or act in wilful disregard.
It previously stated that it retained Ambassador Prosper’s law firm “to help with human rights compliance.”
Hikvision stated that it fully supports the UN principles for business and human right.
According to the firm, it does not monitor or control devices that are handed over to installers. They also stated that operational matters were not under its remit.
Simply ask simple questions
Professor Sampson said that the answers to the letter were not satisfactory and that he would like to know if the cameras had been used in internment camps.
It’s not a good idea to say “we aren’t involved in operations” or “we have no control over what they do with them.”
His words were: “Our Parliamentary Committee accepted the existence of these interment camps and noted that sophisticated surveillance technology is enabling substantial and continued human rights violations.” It is important that I understand Hikvision’s role.
He stated that he wasn’t impressed with the information he heard and was not convinced he was receiving a complete account.
Although Professor Sampson has been invited by the company to meet Ambassador Prosper in person, Prosper says that he only wants to hear answers to basic questions.
Hikvision stated to the BBC that they were looking forward to meeting with the Biometrics and Surveillance Commissioner and had nothing else to add to their letter.
Publited Sat, 14 August 2021 at 09:32.35 +0000