Rights group will urge UN to press HK government for full democracy

PUBLISHED : Monday, 29 December, 2008, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 29 December, 2008, 12:00am

A local human rights group will urge the United Nations to press the Hong Kong government to introduce full democracy and improve human rights in the city, during a hearing early next year.

Hong Kong Human Rights Monitor has dismissed as a 'promotional leaflet' the report prepared by the government for the United Nations Human Rights Council's universal periodic review, during which the council reviews all members' human rights records.

The group criticised the government report for failing to touch on human rights problems in the city. It also accused the government of disbanding a working group on human rights education under the Committee on the Promotion of Civic Education - a move the government said was the result of an effort to streamline the committee's structure. Human Rights Monitor said it was planning to send a delegation to New York in February to 'present a true picture' of Hong Kong's human rights situation to the international body.

In its submission to the UN Human Rights Council, the group criticised the city's electoral system and the decision by the National People's Congress to rule out universal suffrage for electing the chief executive and the entire legislature in 2012.

'More than 3 million eligible voters have been deprived of the right to universal suffrage,' said the group's report. The group also criticised the government's handling of the Citizens' Radio saga and urged it to 'take vigorous measures to prevent and prosecute harassment of media personnel'. It also highlighted the importance of maintaining the editorial independence of RTHK.

The Hong Kong government report, which is incorporated into the one submitted to the UN by China, says: '[The government] attaches great importance to promotion of human rights through public education and publicity.

'Human rights topics form part of the school curriculum at different levels and are included in the syllabuses of a wide range of subjects. Courses on various aspects of human rights are offered by tertiary institutions.' On democratisation, it said the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress 'decided that the election of the [chief executive] may be implemented by universal suffrage in 2017'.

However, the report did not mention the possibility of having universal suffrage for the legislature in 2020, only saying it 'may be implemented' after the chief executive was elected by universal suffrage.