Hong Kong Human Rights Monitor

"Shameless Violation" of Human Rights Covenant by Hong Kong Government

A large delegation of Hong Kong NGO representatives visited Geneva in October for the United Nations Human Rights Committee meeting to consider the Supplementary Report from the United Kingdom on behalf of Hong Kong. Monitor members present (representing a variety of different organisations) were Emily Lau, James To, Paul Harris, Law Yuk-Kai, Andrew Byrnes, Ho Hei Wa, Harold Ko, To Kwun Hang, Rita Kwok, George Edwards and Wing Kay Po.

The Committee was mainly concerned to ensure continued reports were received about Hong Kong after the transfer of sovereignty. On this issue the NGOs were preaching to the converted. The Committee had already stated in the Concluding Observations from its previous meeting that the reporting requirement must as a matter of law continue; that once a country or territory was under the protection of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights that protection could not be removed. On this occasion the Committee called for a further supplementary report from the United Kingdom going up to the last day of United Kingdom sovereignty over Hong Kong. This report will fall to be considered by the Committee when China is the sovereign power. Committee members also suggested that if reports were not submitted in future by China the Committee might write its own report, (with assistance from Hong Kong NGOs) and send to China for comments.

NGO representatives were disappointed that the Committee's concluding observations did not focus on some of the serious existing human rights problems such as the lack of accountability of the police. However the Chairman of the Committee went out of his way to emphasise to the British Government representatives that the existing Legco, with its functional constituencies, was "a shameless violation of Articles 25 of the Covenant", which provides for elections by universal and equal suffrage. Hong Kong democrats have said so for years. It is useful to have this confirmed by the highest authority on the subject.

1996/1997 (c) Hong Kong Human Rights Monitor