Warning on rights in run-up to 1997

Linda Choy

THE reluctance of the Government to bring about an effective environment for the enactment of the Bill of Rights could deal a blow to human rights in the run-up to 1997, an independent human rights watchdog warned yesterday.

The chairman of the Human Rights Commission, Ho Hei-wah, said it had detected signs of increasing self-restriction over the past year.

He cited the case of Martin Lee Chu-ming and Szeto Wah, who had difficulties in finding a solicitor to sue Simon Li Fook-sean, deputy chairman of the working panel for the post-1997 Hong Kong Government.

Commission spokesman Anthony Chiu Sin-wing urged the Government to discuss the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights with China.

Hong Kong might lose the full protection of the two covenants after the change of sovereignty to China, which has not signed either article.

The commission also criticised the Government for not protecting people's rights from the power of the disciplinary forces.


Mr Chiu said the Government was giving the police too much discretionary power without strong enough guidelines.

The commission also renewed its call for the setting up of an independent Human Rights Commission.

The commission would provide a comprehensive programme in education and promotion of human rights and would act as a speedy mechanism for resolving disputes.

A report on rights in Hong Kong will be published in October.


The commission will seek a meeting with the Constitutional Affairs Branch and Legislative Councillors to express its dissatisfaction.