New world news from Time: Amnesty International Says Hong Kong Police Using ‘Reckless and Indiscriminate Tactics’

Amnesty International on Friday accused Hong Kong police of employing “reckless and indiscriminate tactics” against protesters in what amounts to an alarming pattern of abuse, and called for an independent investigation.

In a new report, Amnesty documented a series of arbitrary arrests and retaliatory violence against pro-democracy protesters held in custody, some of which, it said, amounted to torture.

“The evidence leaves little room for doubt—in an apparent thirst for retaliation, Hong Kong’s security forces have engaged in a disturbing pattern of reckless and unlawful tactics against people during the protests,” said Nicholas Bequelin, East Asia Director at Amnesty International.

The police’s use of force, Bequelin added, is “clearly excessive, violating international human rights law.”

One of the key demands of the protests that have rocked the semi-autonomous Chinese enclave for three months has been an independent inquiry into the police response. While protesters have repeatedly accused the force of exercising excessive violence, the city’s embattled leader Carrie Lam has defended the police and resisted calls for independent accountability measures.

In preparing its report, Amnesty spoke with 48 people, including arrested protesters who shared accounts of being severely beaten and suffering other ill-treatment at the hands of police. One detainee said that after he refused to answer a question he was taken to another room where several officers attacked him and threatened to break his hands.

Another said he saw officers force a boy to shine a laser pen into his own eye in what appeared to be retribution for protesters’ use of laser pointers during the demonstrations.

Protesters spoke of similarly heavy-handed tactics at the time of arrest. One man was hospitalized with a fractured rib, among other injuries, after police pinned him to the ground and attacked him until he had difficulty breathing, Amnesty’s report said.

The human rights group also found police denied protesters held in custody access to lawyers and medical care.

In response to the report, Hong Kong police said it has respected the dignity, privacy and rights of those detained, according to local media. The police encouraged anyone who disagrees to file a complaint.

According to the police tally released Friday, over 1,400 people have been arrested since the protests began in June in response to a controversial extradition bill that would have allowed the transfer of fugitives to mainland China. The city’s leader withdrew the bill at the start of this month, but many chastised the concession as coming too late.

Amnesty’s report follows similar allegations against the police made by activists Denise Ho and Joshua Wong when they testified before the U.S. Congressional-Executive Commission on China earlier this week.

“Given the pervasiveness of the abuses we found, it is clear that the Hong Kong Police Force is no longer in a position to investigate itself,” Bequelin said. “Amnesty International is urgently calling for an independent, impartial investigation aimed at delivering prosecutions, justice and reparation.”

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New top story from Time: Amnesty International Says Hong Kong Police Using ‘Reckless and Indiscriminate Tactics’

Amnesty International on Friday accused Hong Kong police of employing “reckless and indiscriminate tactics” against protesters in what amounts to an alarming pattern of abuse, and called for an independent investigation.

In a new report, Amnesty documented a series of arbitrary arrests and retaliatory violence against pro-democracy protesters held in custody, some of which, it said, amounted to torture.

“The evidence leaves little room for doubt—in an apparent thirst for retaliation, Hong Kong’s security forces have engaged in a disturbing pattern of reckless and unlawful tactics against people during the protests,” said Nicholas Bequelin, East Asia Director at Amnesty International.

The police’s use of force, Bequelin added, is “clearly excessive, violating international human rights law.”

One of the key demands of the protests that have rocked the semi-autonomous Chinese enclave for three months has been an independent inquiry into the police response. While protesters have repeatedly accused the force of exercising excessive violence, the city’s embattled leader Carrie Lam has defended the police and resisted calls for independent accountability measures.

In preparing its report, Amnesty spoke with 48 people, including arrested protesters who shared accounts of being severely beaten and suffering other ill-treatment at the hands of police. One detainee said that after he refused to answer a question he was taken to another room where several officers attacked him and threatened to break his hands.

Another said he saw officers force a boy to shine a laser pen into his own eye in what appeared to be retribution for protesters’ use of laser pointers during the demonstrations.

Protesters spoke of similarly heavy-handed tactics at the time of arrest. One man was hospitalized with a fractured rib, among other injuries, after police pinned him to the ground and attacked him until he had difficulty breathing, Amnesty’s report said.

The human rights group also found police denied protesters held in custody access to lawyers and medical care.

In response to the report, Hong Kong police said it has respected the dignity, privacy and rights of those detained, according to local media. The police encouraged anyone who disagrees to file a complaint.

According to the police tally released Friday, over 1,400 people have been arrested since the protests began in June in response to a controversial extradition bill that would have allowed the transfer of fugitives to mainland China. The city’s leader withdrew the bill at the start of this month, but many chastised the concession as coming too late.

Amnesty’s report follows similar allegations against the police made by activists Denise Ho and Joshua Wong when they testified before the U.S. Congressional-Executive Commission on China earlier this week.

“Given the pervasiveness of the abuses we found, it is clear that the Hong Kong Police Force is no longer in a position to investigate itself,” Bequelin said. “Amnesty International is urgently calling for an independent, impartial investigation aimed at delivering prosecutions, justice and reparation.”

New top story from Time: A Top Defector Says the U.S. Must Levy Tougher Sanctions on North Korea to Prevent a New Nuclear State

The U.S. needs to wake up to the reality that its policy on North Korea is not working and quickly impose harsher sanctions if the world is going to avert the birth of a new nuclear state, a former North Korean diplomat says.

Thae Yong-ho, one of the highest-level North Korean officials to defect, told TIME in a recent interview that regime leader Kim Jong Un has no intention of abandoning his nuclear program and is only “trying to buy time” until the world accepts his country’s nuclear status.

Convincing Pyongyang to abandon its nuclear arsenal, Thae says, will require ramping up the pressure through punitive measures.

“Kim Jong Un is not interested in the denuclearization process,” he says, adding that “America has to take very resolute action by increasing additional economic sanctions.”

U.S. intelligence similarly concluded that Kim is not ready to relinquish his nuclear arsenal, Defense Intelligence Agency director Lieutenant General Robert Ashley told Fox News in June.

According to Thae, who served as the North’s former deputy ambassador to the U.K., President Donald Trump’s current approach of buddying up to the dictator and holding high-profile summits “is a failure.”

Thae’s comments come as Washington and Pyongyang both signal interest in resuming the stalled denuclearization talks. North Korea announced its willingness to reenter the discussions earlier this month in a statement that preceded its latest round of short-range missiles launches by just hours.

The last Trump-Kim summit in February collapsed over U.S. demands for denuclearization and North Korean demands for substantial sanctions relief.

While Trump has agreed to ease joint military exercises with South Korea, he has not relieved Pyongyang of the embargoes meant to halt its nuclear and ballistic missile programs.

But Thae says that Trump’s refusal to exact a heavier toll on a regime that has made unprecedented gains in its nuclear program — Kim has conducted more missile and nuclear tests than his father Kim Jong Il and grandfather Kim Il Sung combined — is already a coup for the young leader. Directly undercutting his own cabinet, Trump in May rolled back additional measures imposed by the Treasury Department, a decision he announced via Twitter.

Some experts insist that progress toward denuclearization remains unlikely until Washington is prepared to ease its already tough sanctions regimen. South Korean President Moon Jae-in has advocated the U.S. take a more conciliatory approach, while in July Chinese President Xi Jinping reportedly urged Trump in July to “show flexibility” and ease sanctions in due course. A New York Times report in June indicated that the Trump Administration may consider a deal that involves partial relief for partial dismantling.

Duyeon Kim, an adjunct senior fellow with the Center for a New American Security, suggests sanctions don’t have to be imposed in an all-or-nothing approach.

“If and when serious negotiations are held, Washington should consider providing time-bound ad hoc sanctions exemptions in exchange for some denuclearization steps,” she says.

“This provides some incentives and relief for Pyongyang to get the ball rolling on denuclearization while allowing for sanctions to be ‘snapped back’ if North Korea doesn’t fulfill its end of the bargain,” Kim adds. “Otherwise, if sanctions are completely lifted, then they would be difficult, if not impossible, to re-impose them because China and Russia would not vote in favor.”

The extent to which sanctions offer effective leverage over North Korea remains debatable. The regime itself insisted just last month that it “will never barter the strategic security of the country for the sanctions relief.”

Some analysts say it’s not the level of sanctions that should be up for debate, but how to more effectively enforce the U.S. and U.N. bans in place now, some of which date back to 2006.

“We don’t know precisely how badly the sanctions are hurting the North Korean economy,” says Benjamin Katzeff Silberstein, a Templeton Fellow at the Foreign Policy Research Institute, adding, “but we do know that they are.”

According to a report from South Korea’s central bank, the North’s economy in 2018 contracted for the second consecutive year, shrinking the most since 1997, due to a combination of international sanctions and drought.

Thae says the U.N.’s ban on North Korean exports of oil, seafood and petroleum have particularly put a squeeze on the country’s economy, but not enough to destabilize the black market or really force Pyongyang’s hand.

“The question is whether the sanctions are enough to stop the nuclear process of North Korea,” he says. “Clearly, it is not enough.”

New world news from Time: A Top Defector Says the U.S. Must Levy Tougher Sanctions on North Korea to Prevent a New Nuclear State

The U.S. needs to wake up to the reality that its policy on North Korea is not working and quickly impose harsher sanctions if the world is going to avert the birth of a new nuclear state, a former North Korean diplomat says.

Thae Yong-ho, one of the highest-level North Korean officials to defect, told TIME in a recent interview that regime leader Kim Jong Un has no intention of abandoning his nuclear program and is only “trying to buy time” until the world accepts his country’s nuclear status.

Convincing Pyongyang to abandon its nuclear arsenal, Thae says, will require ramping up the pressure through punitive measures.

“Kim Jong Un is not interested in the denuclearization process,” he says, adding that “America has to take very resolute action by increasing additional economic sanctions.”

U.S. intelligence similarly concluded that Kim is not ready to relinquish his nuclear arsenal, Defense Intelligence Agency director Lieutenant General Robert Ashley told Fox News in June.

According to Thae, who served as the North’s former deputy ambassador to the U.K., President Donald Trump’s current approach of buddying up to the dictator and holding high-profile summits “is a failure.”

Thae’s comments come as Washington and Pyongyang both signal interest in resuming the stalled denuclearization talks. North Korea announced its willingness to reenter the discussions earlier this month in a statement that preceded its latest round of short-range missiles launches by just hours.

The last Trump-Kim summit in February collapsed over U.S. demands for denuclearization and North Korean demands for substantial sanctions relief.

While Trump has agreed to ease joint military exercises with South Korea, he has not relieved Pyongyang of the embargoes meant to halt its nuclear and ballistic missile programs.

But Thae says that Trump’s refusal to exact a heavier toll on a regime that has made unprecedented gains in its nuclear program — Kim has conducted more missile and nuclear tests than his father Kim Jong Il and grandfather Kim Il Sung combined — is already a coup for the young leader. Directly undercutting his own cabinet, Trump in May rolled back additional measures imposed by the Treasury Department, a decision he announced via Twitter.

Some experts insist that progress toward denuclearization remains unlikely until Washington is prepared to ease its already tough sanctions regimen. South Korean President Moon Jae-in has advocated the U.S. take a more conciliatory approach, while in July Chinese President Xi Jinping reportedly urged Trump in July to “show flexibility” and ease sanctions in due course. A New York Times report in June indicated that the Trump Administration may consider a deal that involves partial relief for partial dismantling.

Duyeon Kim, an adjunct senior fellow with the Center for a New American Security, suggests sanctions don’t have to be imposed in an all-or-nothing approach.

“If and when serious negotiations are held, Washington should consider providing time-bound ad hoc sanctions exemptions in exchange for some denuclearization steps,” she says.

“This provides some incentives and relief for Pyongyang to get the ball rolling on denuclearization while allowing for sanctions to be ‘snapped back’ if North Korea doesn’t fulfill its end of the bargain,” Kim adds. “Otherwise, if sanctions are completely lifted, then they would be difficult, if not impossible, to re-impose them because China and Russia would not vote in favor.”

The extent to which sanctions offer effective leverage over North Korea remains debatable. The regime itself insisted just last month that it “will never barter the strategic security of the country for the sanctions relief.”

Some analysts say it’s not the level of sanctions that should be up for debate, but how to more effectively enforce the U.S. and U.N. bans in place now, some of which date back to 2006.

“We don’t know precisely how badly the sanctions are hurting the North Korean economy,” says Benjamin Katzeff Silberstein, a Templeton Fellow at the Foreign Policy Research Institute, adding, “but we do know that they are.”

According to a report from South Korea’s central bank, the North’s economy in 2018 contracted for the second consecutive year, shrinking the most since 1997, due to a combination of international sanctions and drought.

Thae says the U.N.’s ban on North Korean exports of oil, seafood and petroleum have particularly put a squeeze on the country’s economy, but not enough to destabilize the black market or really force Pyongyang’s hand.

“The question is whether the sanctions are enough to stop the nuclear process of North Korea,” he says. “Clearly, it is not enough.”