Emily Lau urges UN to chide SAR over lack of racism laws

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 31 July, 2001, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 31 July, 2001, 12:00am

A UN committee was last night urged to send a strong signal that Hong Kong has failed to live up to an international convention by refusing to enact laws against racial discrimination.

Emily Lau Wai-hing of The Frontier, one of 11 visiting delegates from Hong Kong, made the plea to the UN Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination at a briefing before today's hearing in Geneva.

Speaking from Geneva, Ms Lau said: 'I think we got a very sympathetic reception as the committee has previously recommended that laws be enacted against racial discrimination.'

She said the committee was urged to consider a separate UN hearing on racial discrimination in Hong Kong.

Philip Dykes of Human Rights Monitor has argued the SAR Government is legally obliged to implement the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination.

During the one-hour briefing, Mr Dykes said there was no reason why anti-racial discrimination should not be introduced in Hong Kong. He noted that three anti-discrimination laws - on sex, disability and family status - were already in place.

There were heated moments when committee member Mahmoud Aboul-Nasr pointed out there were no anti-discrimination laws during the colonial days.

Ms Lau quoted him as saying that the situation in Hong Kong was already much better than in many African and Asian countries. But Ms Lau said it was unreasonable to compare Hong Kong with the worst examples and maintained that international standards should be applied.

The committee members were also briefed by three non-governmental organisations on discrimination against ethnic minorities, foreign domestic helpers, and children from the mainland.