There is a call for a ban on the use of CCTV cameras made by Chinese firm Hikvision after it emerged they are used by 13 councils across Scotland.
The company was blacklisted by the United States Government in 2019 over concerns about their role in human rights violations, targeting Uighurs in Xinjiang.
In July, a group of MPs and Peers called on the UK Government to ban the sale and use of Hikvision surveillance equipment – along with that made by another Chinese company, Dahua, in the UK.
Westminster’s Foreign Affairs Committee also previously called for a nationwide ban on equipment made by both companies.
In a report, the Committee stated that cameras made by Hikvision had been deployed throughout Xinjiang and provided camera technology used in internment camps there.
Campaign group Big Brother Watch highlighted figures that 73% of councils in the UK use CCTV cameras made by the two companies, as well as 57% of secondary schools and 60% of NHS trusts.
A Freedom of Information (FOI) request made by the Scottish Liberal Democrats has now revealed that cameras made by Hikvision are used by more than a dozen councils in Scotland.
They are; Angus, Argyll and Bute, East Ayrshire, Edinburgh, Falkirk, Glasgow, Inverclyde, Moray, North Lanarkshire, Perth & Kinross, Renfrewshire, Shetland and South Lanarkshire.
Cameras were installed at five of the councils following publication of the report by the Foreign Affairs Committee which warned about the company.
Alex Cole-Hamilton, Scottish Liberal Democrat leader, has called for “robust rules” to be introduced by the Scottish and UK governments about partnering with Chinese companies.
“It’s extremely disappointing that not only are a dozen councils using these cameras but they have carried on installing them after the Foreign Affairs Committee connected Hikvision to human rights abuses,” he said.
“There have been numerous warnings that Hikvision were providing surveillance tools for the Chinese government.
“The Scottish and UK governments need to come off the fence and introduce more robust rules about partnering with Chinese firms.”
Cole-Hamilton described it as “beyond the pale” to have such a financial relationship with the company in place.
“It’s clear that the time has come for a ban on the sale and use of this equipment,” he said.
“Having an ongoing financial relationship like this is really beyond the pale.
“The Scottish Government need to atone for these massive moral and ethical failings.
“They should provide councils and government agencies with the support they need to uninstall the cameras with the utmost agency.”
A Scottish Government spokesperson said that it expects all public sector bodies to undertake “appropriate due diligence” on companies who receive public money.
“The Scottish Government has serious concerns regarding the human rights situation in China, particularly in Xinjiang, and will continue to raise these concerns directly with the Chinese government,” they said.
“Local government procurement is a matter for local authorities. Public procurement regulations specifically allow for companies to be excluded from tendering where it can be demonstrated by appropriate means that they are guilty of grave professional misconduct.
“The Scottish Government expects all public sector bodies to undertake appropriate due diligence on companies in receipt of public money.
“Ultimately, it is for councils to make decisions on how best to deliver services to their communities”.
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