Watchdog placed on the agenda

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 04 October, 2005, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 04 October, 2005, 12:00am

The government will consider forming a children's commission to co-ordinate policies affecting the interests of children.

Deputy Secretary for Home Affairs Stephen Fisher said the administration would consider setting up a central co-ordinating system, which the United Nations and non-governmental organisations have been seeking for years.

'We already have a Youth Commission, but that only deals with young people aged between 16 and 18, so we need to consider whether to have two such bodies or how to do this,' he said after returning from Geneva, where he presented Hong Kong's report to a UN hearing on the Convention on the Rights of the Child.

Addressing the UN's call for a single comprehensive policy or law concerning children, Mr Fisher said the government continued to stress this was not necessary as there were no serious problems with the existing arrangements.

At the two-day hearing for the mainland, Hong Kong and Macau, the government also made a commitment to prepare Hong Kong for application of the Optional Protocol on the Sale of Children, Child Prostitution and Child Pornography.

'Our enactment of the Prevention of Child Pornography Ordinance has covered most of the provisions in the optional protocol, but we are identifying gaps concerning protection against child prostitution and the sale of children,' Mr Fisher said.

'We need to see if the coverage in Hong Kong on these issues is adequate and whether we will need a bill to make minor amendments to the legislation here and there.'

At the hearing, concerns were raised about the education of ethnic minority children, and the rights of children who are asylum seekers or refugees.

Meanwhile, Mr Fisher said the anti-racism bill was in a very advanced stage of drafting and was in its second circulation among other bureaus.