Title Hong Kong: Basic rights at risk: comments on the HKSAR Consultation Document of April 1997
Publisher Amnesty International
Publication Date 30 April 1997
Country Hong Kong (Special Administrative Region of China)
Topics Constitutional law | Freedom of assembly and association | Freedom of expression | International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR)
Citation / Document Symbol ASA 19/006/1997
Reference Amnesty International is a worldwide voluntary movement that works to prevent some of the gravest violations by governments of people's fundamental human rights. The main focus of its campaigning is to: free all prisoners of conscience people detained an
Cite as Amnesty International, Hong Kong: Basic rights at risk: comments on the HKSAR Consultation Document of April 1997, 30 April 1997, ASA 19/006/1997, available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/3ae6a9881c.html [accessed 11 July 2014]
Comments On 9 April, the office of Tung Chee-hwa, Chief Executive-Designate of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR) of the People's Republic of China, issued a Consultation Document entitled Civil Liberties and Social Order, proposing changes to legislation safeguarding basic human rights in Hong Kong and inviting public comment. Amnesty International makes these comments as an organization that has been part of the non-government community in Hong Kong for many years. Amnesty International has had a membership structure in Hong Kong since 1976 and maintains a regional office there since 1989. Amnesty International is concerned that some of the proposed changes would significantly weaken safeguards for human rigths in Hong Kong, to the extent that the HKSAR Government would cease to abide by its obligations under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) as applied to Hong Kong. This document presents Amnesty International's comments on the Consultation Document, and outlines recommendations to the HKSAR Government and Provisional Legislature on amendments to the proposed legislation. These are based on the Hong Kong Basic Law and international human rights standards. This document also outlines recommendations on the implementation of the legislation. Amnesty International's recommendations are the following: 1. Amnesty International considers it essential that the Office of the HKSAR Chief Executive publish an official and detailed explanation of the reasons why, and the extent to which, each section of the affected ordinances contravenes, if at all, the Basic Law. These explanations should accompany any legislation amending the ordinances and should be debated fully by the Provisional Legislature of the HKSAR, following a full public consultation. 2. Amnesty International also calls on the National People's Congress Standing Committee and on the HKSAR Government to make clear that they are satisfied that all Hong Kong laws not already declared to contravene the Basic Law are in conformity with that law. 3. Amnesty International recommends that the three-week period for consultation on the proposed legislative amendments should be extended for an adequate period following the publication of the explanation of the reasons why each section of the affected ordinances contravenes the Basic Law. 4.Amnesty International is concerned that any legislation passed in the HKSAR to prohibit 'any act of treason, secession, sedition' or 'subversion against the Central People's Government' should not restrict the exercise of fundamental rights, such as the freedom of association and peaceful assembly. Similarly, the organization urges the HKSAR authorities to ensure that no legislation on political organizations limits the exercise of fundamental rights as safeguarded under international standards. 5.Amnesty International recommends that the repeal of Sections 2(3), 3 and 4 of the Bill of Rights Ordinance be reconsidered and that these sections be retained, as they do not contravene, but are consistent with and implement, the Basic Law. At the very least, Section 4, requiring that future legislation should be interpreted in a way that is consistent with the ICCPR, should be retained. If the repeal goes ahead, the HKSAR Provisional Legislature should pass or amend other legislation to provide similar guidance to interpretation of Hong Kong law as these sections of the Bill of Rights provide. 6.Amnesty International believes that any amendments to the Societies Ordinance should be entirely redrafted in light of the above concerns. In particular, Amnesty International recommends that, if any amendments are to be made to the Ordinance, they should: ? provide precise and unambiguous definitions; ? limit the powers of the Societies Officer so that he or she is not authorised to prevent legitimate activities protected by the ICCPR; ? set up a process for registration which puts on the authorities the burden of showing objectively that any restriction is imposed for a purpose that is consistent with the ICCPR and that the restriction is proportionate to the purpose; ? provide for the possibility of independent review of decisions taken by the Societies Officer, ensuring that a decision to deregister a society is suspended during the review; and ? include the phrase 'necessary in a democratic society' in describing the limits on the powers of the Societies Officer and provide that the provisions of the Societies Ordinance are interpreted in a way that is consistent with the ICCPR. 7. Amnesty International believes that any amendments to the Public Order Ordinance should be redrafted in light of the above concerns. In particular, Amnesty International recommends that, if any amendments are to be made to the Public Order Ordinance, they should: ? ? limit the powers of the Commissioner of Police so that he or she is not authorised to prevent legitimate activities protected by the ICCPR; ? ? set up a process for regulation of public processions which puts on the Commissioner of Police the burden of showing objectively that any restriction is imposed for a purpose that is consistent with the ICCPR and that the restriction is proportionate to the purpose; -?include the phrase 'necessary in a democratic society' in describing the limits on the powers of the Commissioner of Police, and provide that the provisions of the Public Order Ordinance are interpreted in a way that is consistent with the ICCPR.
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