Hong Kong Human Rights Monitor

World's first Chinese Treaties Database Launched

Modern communication technology makes almost all important knowledge available to the public on the Internet. The same is true for human rights source documents and educational materials. There are many Internet sites in English and other languages holding international human rights treaties. However, for many years, there was not a single site which held international human rights treaties in the Chinese language. The only Chinese language material which could be found in the United Nations (UN) sites was the Universal Declaration on Human Rights. But even that Universal Declaration was only available in graphic form.

To commemorate the 50th Anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, Human Rights Monitor launched the world's first Chinese Language Human Rights Treaties Database. This database bridges the gap by providing Internet access to various United Nations Human Rights Treaties in complex Chinese characters.

At present Human Rights Monitor has approximately 90 treaties in its present database. The development of this database represents a contribution of Human Rights Monitor to the local community and also incidentally to the world. The database will hold a diverse range of treaties.

There are people who are still unaware of their own rights, and it is essential for them to better understand what rights they are entitled to. Hong Kong people could of course start with the six main international treaties that apply to Hong Kong. These treaties include the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination, Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women, Convention on the Rights of the Child and the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment. Since all the treaties are available in the Chinese language, it makes it easier for the people to comprehend them.

Apart from the above treaties, for those who are more interested to go in-depth into certain specific rights, our database also includes a wide range of treaties spanning from those instruments dealing with various forms of discrimination, those dealing with the rights of the child, employment, freedom of association, marriage, family and youth, humanitarian law, etc. All these specific rights are covered by individual treaties or conventions and could also be located in the database.

In the future, subject to the availability of funding or generous donations, Human Rights Monitor hopes to expand its database to the benefit of the community. The text of the international treaties will be linked to the related Hong Kong laws to enable an easy cross-reference. This enables a user who wants to know how a certain human right enshrined in an international treaty is being implemented in major Hong Kong laws will be able to do so by a few key strokes. Hong Kong people will be better informed of their legal rights with the assistance of the database.

The launching ceremony which was held on the 10th of December at City Hall revealed the fruits of the labour put in by not only the staff of Human Rights Monitor but also by hard-working volunteers. The ceremony was officiated by well-known figures in Hong Kong, including Chairperson of JUSTICE, Gladys Li, Director of Human Rights Commission, Ho Hei Wah, Secretary for Justice, Elsie Leung, Chairperson of Journalists Association, Liu Kin Ming, Honourary Secretary of Hong Kong Bar Association, Susan Kwan, Chairperson of Amnesty International Hong Kong Section, Alan Abrahams, and Chairperson of Hong Kong Human Rights Monitor, Stephen Ng. Elsie Leung, Ho Hei Wah and Stephen Ng all delivered speeches. The Secretary for Justice Elsie Leung described the launch as a "quantum leap and should be praised by all".

Other distinguished guests included Chairperson of the Equal Opportunities Commission, Fanny Cheung, the Privacy Commissioner, Stephen Lau, the Director of Legal Aid Department, Chan Shu-ying, and Legislative Councillors, Martin Lee, James To and Andrew Wong.

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