Bar Association to call on UN to examine discrimination bill

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 23 February, 2008, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 23 February, 2008, 12:00am

The Bar Association will urge the United Nations to assess the Race Discrimination Bill as soon as possible to ensure it conforms to international convention.

The bill, introduced in December, has been criticised for exempting many government acts. In a submission released yesterday, the Bar criticised the bill for 'an extensive array of exclusions and exceptions making many governmental and private acts not subject to its operation'.

Bar chairman Rimsky Yuen Kwok-keung and Lo Pui-yin, deputy chairman of its special committee on constitutional affairs and human rights, will present the submission to the UN's Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination in Geneva on March 3. Representatives from human rights groups will also attend to lobby.

The submission stresses the Bar's concern about a clause that appears to allow racial discrimination in cases involving bureaucratic powers, such as in licensing and general policing.

'Not only should the bill be drafted to bind the government, it should contain provisions to outlaw race discrimination by the government and public authorities ... and in connection with appointment of posts and offices which are not regarded as employment,' the statement said.

'There is a possibility that the legislative process may be complete before the next session of the committee in July. It is imperative that the committee makes known its assessment on the bill as soon as possible.'

Secretary for Constitutional and Mainland Affairs Stephen Lam Sui-lung will talk about the bill in the Legislative Council on March 12.