Implementation of Human Rights Treaties in Hong Kong

Implementation of Human
Rights Treaties in Hong Kong
C.K. Law
July 8, 2012
Outline of presentation
Brief introduction of Hong Kong
 Framework of human rights protection in
Hong Kong
 Some of the major controversies
Hong Kong
Hong Kong is currently a special
administrative region of the People's
Republic of China, with its own
government, judicial system, stamps,
passports, customs policy, immigration
control, currency etc. It has its own
delegations to various international
organisations and sport events.
Hong Kong – a city in South China
Hong Kong Map
Size: 1,104 km2 (New York City: 783.8 km2,, Metro
Stockholm: 6,519 km2)
Population: 7 millions
Hong Kong
Hong Kong 1843
Hong Kong Now
Brief History of Hong Kong
HK a fishing and agricultural village before 1841
Sino-British “Nanking Treaty” (1842) after the Opium
War (1839-1842) – HK Island became a British Colony
1860 “Beijing Treaty” – colony expanded to Kowloon
1898 – New Territories “rented” to the British Empire
for 100 years
1997 – Handover back to China as a Special
Administrative Region (Self administration except
foreign affairs and defense. Constitutional affairs and
appointment of principal officials to be approved by
Central Beijing Government).
Human Rights in HK
Human rights conditions in HK, sometimes arouses
international interest for 2 major reasons:
– it is a world city
– a yardstick to judge whether China has kept its promise
of the "One Country, Two Systems" principle granted to
the HKSAR by its mini-constitution, the Basic Law,
under the Sino-British Joint Declaration
A more detailed discussion on the legal aspects of
human rights in HK can be found in:
Human Rights Treaties
applicable to Hong Kong
There are altogether 16 international treaties
in force and applicable to HKSAR (see:
#Human Rights )
 The two most important ones are:
– The International Covenant on Civil and
Political Rights (ICCPR) and
– The International Covenant on Economic,
Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR)
The framework of implementing
human rights in Hong Kong
The Basic Law
 Common law and legislation
 Mechanisms to monitor the human rights
situation in Hong Kong
Provisions within Basic Law
equality before the law, freedom of speech
and of the press, freedom of association, of
assembly and of demonstration, from
unlawful search of or intrusion into homes
or other premises, freedom and privacy of
communication, freedom of movement,
freedom of religious belief, and right to
social welfare in accordance with law rights
of permanent residents to vote and to stand
for election in accordance with law.
Local legislation
Hong Kong Bill of Rights
 Sex Discrimination Ordinance
 Disability Discrimination Ordinance
 Family Status Discrimination Ordinance
 Race Discrimination Ordinance
 Related legislation
– Mental Health Ordinance
– Personal Data (Privacy) Ordinance
Mechanisms to monitor human
rights in HKSAR
Equal Opportunities Commission (look after the Four
“Discrimination” Ordinances)
Reporting to the United Nations Human Rights Council (as
part of China’s report)
Human Rights Forum Human Rights Forum, the Ethnic
Minorities Forum, the Sexual Minorities Forum, the
Children’s Rights Forum, the Ethnic Minorities Forum –
NGOs consultative platforms
Related bodies – Women’s Commission, Privacy
Commissioner, Independent Police Complaints Council,
Legislative Council
NGOs (e.g. HK Human Rights Monitor)
Some of the major controversies
Human Rights Commission vs Equal
Opportunities Commission
 Only 50% of the Legislature returned by
universal suffrage (other 50% returned by
functional constituencies representing much
narrower sectorial interest)
 Applicability and scope of discrimination
 Incidents of Police allegedly abusing power14

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