Alternate UN human rights report looms
By ALISON NADEL
ACTIVISTS and legislators, furious at the lack of consultation on the Government's human rights report, are to write an alternate report for the United Nations.
Their report could embarrass the Hong Kong Government before the international body, but concerned legislators said they had been left with little alternative.
Ten prominent human rights bodies gave 15-minute submissions at Legco yesterday, spelling out how to bring the territory in line with the UN's International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR).
The Government was scheduled to submit a report on Hong Kong under the ICCPR almost a year ago, but still has not done so. Government spokesmen expect the report will be filed by this July.
Last November, non-government organisations (NGOs) and legislators delivered alternative reports to the UN Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights in Geneva. After the incident, the Government promised public consultation on its ICCPR report.
But human rights workers and legislators were dismayed to find this meant being given a 'bare outline' of the areas the administration intended to cover.
Legislator Fung Chi-wood, who chaired the joint Home Affairs and Constitutional Affairs panel meeting in Legco yesterday, said: 'We want to get the views of the experts and compile our own report to submit to Geneva as soon as possible.
'The Government has not taken this step, so we are doing it for them. We hope to send a delegation from Legco to Geneva in October.' His concerns were echoed loudly by speakers from the Hong Kong Committee for the Rights of the Child, and Amnesty International through to arts group Zuni Icosahedron.
Prime concerns were: That the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women be extended to the territory.
The introduction of comprehensive anti-discrimination legislation.
The establishment of an independent Human Rights Commission.
How Hong Kong will report to the UN after 1997.
Journalists' Association spokesman Ivan Tong Kam-piu said China was not a signatory to the ICCPR.
'Yet the Government's outline did not even mention the post-97 reporting under the ICCPR,' he said.
Movement Against Discrimination head Mak Hoi-wah said he was concerned for the protection of human rights post-97.
'The Government could be braver in its approach and in getting community comments,' he said.
Lawyer Pam Baker, who represented Refugee Concern and the Committee on the Rights of the Child, was scathing.
'The hypocrisy of the Government is stunning,' she said. 'They have broken almost every single clause of the ICCPR when it comes to the treatment of Vietnamese asylum seekers, yet the last report from the Government did not even mention this.' Hong Kong Council for Women's representative, Ann Jordan vowed to submit a separate report to the UN.
'The Government has already said that NGOs can't go along with the official delegation, yet the UK Government is positively trying to get NGOs to join it,' Ms Jordan said.
'It's one thing to have NGOs criticise the Government at the UN, quite another to have its own legislature doing so. It's highly embarrassing.'