Amnesty International Report 1998 - Macao
|Publication Date||1 January 1998|
|Cite as||Amnesty International, Amnesty International Report 1998 - Macao, 1 January 1998, available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/3ae6a9ef78.html [accessed 2 September 2015]|
(This report covers the period January-December 1997)
There was continuing uncertainty about nationality arrangements for residents, including refugees, after the handover to China.
The handover to China of the neighbouring territory of Hong Kong in June highlighted the need for the Portuguese administration to pursue administrative reforms ahead of Macao's own return to Chinese control on 20 December 1999. In May Chinese officials expressed concern at the slowness of some of the preparations for the handover. In particular they were concerned that many of Macao's laws and official documents had not yet been translated into Chinese or made available in bilingual form. There were also continuing delays in ensuring that court proceedings could be bilingual. Also in May China highlighted its concern over the slow rate at which senior civil service positions held by colonial administrators were being devolved to Macao residents.
The year was marked by an upsurge in violent crime, attributed mainly to conflicts among criminal gangs. In July the Leal Senado (legislative assembly) passed legislation reinforcing penalties for gang membership and creating new offences aimed at curbing gang activities.
In April the UN Human Rights Committee considered a report presented by Portugal on the implementation in Macao of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (iccpr). The Committee reaffirmed that it expected to receive and review reports on the implementation of the iccpr in Macao beyond the 1999 handover, even though China had not yet ratified it. The Committee welcomed the formal abolition of the death penalty in the 1996 Criminal Law; it expressed concern that "firm arrangements" on the nationality of Macao residents after 1999 had not yet been agreed with China
Uncertainty remained about the situation of immigrants after the handover, including people granted asylum in Macao and illegal immigrants from China. In particular, it was unclear whether East Timorese refugees in Macao, most of whom were eligible to apply for a Portuguese passport, would be authorized to remain in Macao after 1999. Despite a policy of returning illegal Chinese immigrants to China, many remained in Macao for long periods; they had no entitlement to social services. Two Chinese immigrants were briefly detained in March when an illegal school for immigrant children was closed.