United Nations

Barristers cite slow progress on rights

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 12 April, 2003, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 12 April, 2003, 12:00am

The Bar Association is scathing in its criticism of the special administrative region (SAR) government's human rights record in the first draft of a paper it plans to submit to the UN Human Rights Committee.

In response to the administration's consultation on topics to be covered in its second report to the UN under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, the Bar said most of the concerns raised by the committee in its 1999 report had yet to be addressed.

The paper listed new concerns that had arisen since 1999, such as the 'haste' and 'lack of genuine consultation' in implementing Article 23 laws, the 'selective prosecution' of activists under the Public Order Ordinance last year, as well as re-emphasising older matters that have yet to be addressed, such as the lack of a law banning racism.

It noted that the government had yet to heed public and UN calls to undertake never to seek another reinterpretation of Court of Final Appeal decisions, and said this demonstrated a 'lack of respect for the independence of the Judiciary and the rule of law'.

'The SAR government has so far failed to make any commitment as to when it will take steps to achieve such goals as selecting the chief executive by universal suffrage and electing all the members of the Legislative Council by universal suffrage,' the Bar's paper said.It also criticised the lack of an independent legal aid authority, an independent body with powers of investigation against the police and a human rights commission, which the UN committee recommended in 1999.

'The issues identified ... represent a clear lack of commitment on the part of the SAR government to improve the human rights situation in Hong Kong,' the Bar wrote.

It will submit a shadow report to the UN body after the government submits its report in October.