Last Updated: Wednesday, 13 December 2017, 11:55 GMT

2015 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices - China (Macau)

Publisher United States Department of State
Publication Date 13 April 2016
Cite as United States Department of State, 2015 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices - China (Macau), 13 April 2016, available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/5716128715.html [accessed 13 December 2017]
DisclaimerThis is not a UNHCR publication. UNHCR is not responsible for, nor does it necessarily endorse, its content. Any views expressed are solely those of the author or publisher and do not necessarily reflect those of UNHCR, the United Nations or its Member States.

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY

Macau is a Special Administrative Region (SAR) of the People's Republic of China (PRC) and enjoys a high degree of autonomy, except in defense and foreign affairs, under the SAR's constitution (the Basic Law). A 400-member Election Committee re-elected Chief Executive Fernando Chui Sai-on in August 2014. Macau residents elected 14 of 33 Legislative Assembly representatives in 2013, with seven representatives appointed by the chief executive and 12 selected by functional constituencies. Civilian authorities maintained effective control over the security forces.

Prominent human rights problems reported during the year included limits on citizens' ability to change their government, constraints on press and academic freedom, and failure to enforce fully laws regarding workers' rights.

Trafficking in persons remained a problem, although authorities were building capacity to pursue trafficking cases. While there were continuing concerns that national security legislation could compromise various civil liberties, by year's end prosecutors had filed no cases based on the legislation.

The government took steps to prosecute and punish officials who committed abuses.


Section 1. Respect for the Integrity of the Person, Including Freedom from:

a. Arbitrary or Unlawful Deprivation of Life

There were no reports that the government or its agents committed arbitrary or unlawful killings.

b. Disappearance

There were no reports of politically motivated disappearances.

c. Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman, or Degrading Treatment or Punishment

The law prohibits such practices, and there were no reports that government officials employed them.

Prison and Detention Center Conditions

Prison and detention center conditions generally met international standards.

Administration: The law allows prisoners and detainees to request investigation of alleged deficiencies in prison conditions, and judges and prosecutors made monthly visits to prisons to hear prisoner complaints.

Independent Monitoring: According to the government, no independent human rights observers requested or made any visit to the Macau Prison. Judges and prosecutors visited the prison at least monthly.

d. Arbitrary Arrest or Detention

The law prohibits arbitrary arrest and detention, and the government generally observed these prohibitions. Activists expressed concern that the legal system was being abused to target political dissidents through exaggerated or misapplied charges.

Role of the Police and Security Apparatus

Civilian authorities maintained effective control over the Public Security Police (general law enforcement) and the Judiciary Police (criminal investigations), both of which report to the Secretariat for Security, and the government had effective mechanisms to investigate and punish official abuse and corruption. There were no reports of impunity involving the security forces.

Arrest Procedures and Treatment of Detainees

Authorities detained persons openly with warrants issued by a duly authorized official based on sufficient evidence. Detainees had access to a lawyer of their choice or, if indigent, to one provided by the government. Detainees had prompt access to family members. Police must present persons in custody to an examining judge within 48 hours of detention. The examining judge, who conducts a pretrial inquiry in criminal cases, has wide powers to collect evidence, order or dismiss indictments, and determine whether to release detained persons. According to the government, courts should try defendants within the "shortest period of time." Investigations by the prosecuting attorney should end with charges or dismissal within eight months, or six months when the defendant is in detention. The pretrial inquiry stage must be concluded within four months, or two months if the defendant is detained. By law the maximum time limit for pretrial detention ranges from six months to three years depending on the charges and progress of the judicial process. Judges often refused bail in cases where sentences could exceed three years.

There were 15 complaints of police mistreatment reported to the authorities in the latter half of 2014 and the first half of 2015. Twelve cases were found to be unsubstantiated after investigation and one case was withdrawn. Of the remaining two cases, one was substantiated by investigation and one remained pending. There was one reported death in police custody due to suicide.

e. Denial of Fair Public Trial

The law provides for an independent judiciary, and the government generally respected judicial independence.

The courts may rule on matters that are the responsibility of the PRC government or concern the relationship between central authorities and the SAR, but before making their final judgment, which is not subject to appeal, the courts must seek an interpretation of the relevant provisions of the Basic Law from the National People's Congress (NPC) Standing Committee. The courts, in applying those provisions, "shall follow the interpretation of the standing committee."

Trial Procedures

The law provides for the right to a fair trial, and an independent judiciary generally enforced this right. A case may be presided over by one judge or a group of judges, depending on the type of crime and the maximum penalty involved.

Under the law defendants enjoy a presumption of innocence, have access to government-held evidence relevant to their cases, and have a right to appeal. The law provides that trials be public, except when the court rules otherwise to "safeguard the dignity of persons (or) public morality, or to ensure the normal functioning of the court." Defendants have the right to be informed promptly and in detail of charges (with free interpretation), be present at their trials, confront witnesses, have adequate time to prepare a defense, not be compelled to testify or confess guilt, and consult with an attorney in a timely manner. The law extends these rights to all residents.

The judiciary provided citizens with a fair and efficient judicial process. A lack of administrative capacity delayed the adjudication of both civil and criminal cases during the year.

Political Prisoners and Detainees

There were no reports of political prisoners or detainees.

Civil Judicial Procedures and Remedies

There is an independent and impartial judiciary for civil matters, and citizens may seek damages for, or cessation of, a human rights violation. Due to an overloaded court system, a period of up to a year often passed between the filing of a civil case and its scheduled hearing.

f. Arbitrary Interference with Privacy, Family, Home, or Correspondence

The law prohibits such actions, and the government generally respected these prohibitions. The Office for Personal Data Protection acknowledged a continuing increase in complaints and inquiries regarding data protection.

Activists critical of the government reported the government monitored their telephone conversations.


Section 2. Respect for Civil Liberties, Including:

a. Freedom of Speech and Expression

Article 233 of Macau Penal Code states that anyone who initiates, organizes, or develops propaganda that incites or encourages discrimination, hatred, or racial violence will be liable to imprisonment for one to eight years. As of November, there were no arrests or convictions under this article.

Press and Media Freedoms: The independent media were active and expressed a wide range of views, and international media operated freely. The government heavily subsidized major newspapers, which tended to follow closely the PRC government's policy on sensitive political issues, such as Taiwan; however, they generally reported freely on the SAR, including criticism of the SAR government. On April 30, Macau Police denied entry into the SAR of two photographers of Hong Kong's Apple Daily News, for "posing a threat to stability of internal security." The pair planned to report on a May 1 Labor Day demonstration.

Violence and Harassment: Activists alleged that authorities misused criminal proceedings to target government critics by exaggerating or misapplying charges. Journalists were generally not subject to violence or harassment. On June 21, security guards dragged a journalist from an online media group out of a congregation hall at the University of Macau for photographing a graduate who was silently protesting.

Censorship or Content Restrictions: Activists raised concerns over media self-censorship, particularly because news outlets and journalists worried certain types of coverage critical of the Macau or PRC governments might limit government funding. Activists reported the Macau and PRC governments had co-opted senior media managers to serve in various consultative or election committees, which also resulted in self-censorship. Journalists expressed concern that the government's limitation on news releases about its own activities and the publication of legal notices only in preferred media outlets influenced editorial content.

Internet Freedom

The government did not restrict or disrupt access to the internet or censor online content.

According to the Statistics and Census Service, as of July there were 317,981 internet subscribers out of a population of 636,200. This total did not take into account multiple internet users for one subscription, nor did it factor in those who accessed the internet through mobile devices.

The law criminalizes a range of cybercrimes and empowers police, with a court warrant, to order internet service providers to retain and provide authorities with a range of data. Some legislators expressed concern the law granted police authority to take these actions without a court order under some circumstances.

Twitter, which the PRC government banned on the mainland, was available on the government-provided free Wi-Fi service. Activists reported they freely used Facebook (also banned on the mainland) and Twitter to communicate. Activists also reported, however, that the government had installed enterprise-grade software capable of censoring, decrypting, and scanning secured transmissions on its free Wi-Fi service without notifying users.

Academic Freedom and Cultural Events

The SAR's public and private universities lacked a tenure system, leaving professors vulnerable to dismissal for political reasons. Some academics reported university officials dissuaded them from studying or speaking on controversial topics concerning Mainland China and some academics reportedly practiced self-censorship.

b. Freedom of Peaceful Assembly and Association

The law provides for the freedom of assembly and association, and the government generally respected these rights.

c. Freedom of Religion

See the Department of State's Report on International Religious Freedom.

d. Freedom of Movement, Internally Displaced Persons, Protection of Refugees, and Stateless Persons

The law provides for freedom of internal movement, foreign travel, emigration, and repatriation, and the government generally respected these rights. The Immigration Department cooperated with the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and other humanitarian organizations to provide protection and assistance to internally displaced persons (IDPs), refugees, returning refugees, asylum seekers, stateless persons, and other persons of concern.

The Internal Security Law grants police the authority to deport or deny entry to nonresidents whom they regard under the law as unwelcome, as a threat to internal security and stability, or as possibly implicated in transnational crimes.

Protection of Refugees

Access to Asylum: The law provides for granting asylum or refugee status, and the government has established a system for providing protection to refugees, but the process remained stalled during the year, according to UNHCR. Authorities maintained that four pending applications for refugee status involving six individuals remained active. The head of the SAR's Refugee Commission made clear that resource shortages and other priorities meant resolution of the cases would likely take several years.

Pending final decisions on their asylum claims, the government registered asylum seekers and provided protection against their expulsion or return to their countries of origin. Persons with pending applications were eligible to receive government support, including basic needs such as housing, medical care, and education for children.


Section 3. Freedom to Participate in the Political Process

The law limits citizens' ability to change their government through credible periodic elections, and citizens did not have universal suffrage. Only a small fraction of citizens play a role in the selection of the chief executive, who was chosen in August 2014 by a 400-member Election Committee consisting of 344 members elected from four broad societal sectors (each of which has a limited franchise) and 56 members chosen from among the SAR's legislators and representatives to the NPC and Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference.

Elections and Political Participation

Recent Elections: In August 2014 the Election Committee re-elected Chief Executive Fernando Chui Sai-On. Chui ran unopposed and won 97 percent of the vote. The most recent general election for the 14 directly elected seats in the 33-member Legislative Assembly occurred in 2013. A total of 145 candidates on 20 electoral lists competed for the seats. The election for these seats was generally credible.

Participation of Women and Minorities: There were no laws or practices preventing women or members of minorities from voting, running for office, serving as election monitors, or otherwise participating in political life on the same basis as men or nonminority citizens. There were seven women in the 33-member Legislative Assembly, including five of the 14 directly elected members.


Section 4. Corruption and Lack of Transparency in Government

The law provides criminal penalties for corruption by officials, and there were few reported cases of officials engaging in corrupt acts.

Corruption: The government's Commission Against Corruption (CAC) investigated the public and private sectors and had the power to arrest and detain suspects. The Ombudsman Bureau within the CAC reviewed complaints of mismanagement or abuse by the CAC. There was also an independent committee outside the CAC called the Monitoring Committee on Discipline of CAC Personnel, which accepted and reviewed complaints about CAC personnel. The CAC regularly detected fraud in the government and private sectors. In March the CAC uncovered a case involving a chief officer of the Macau Prison who allegedly received bribes from an inmate to commit illegal acts. The CAC transferred the case to the Public Prosecutions Office.

Financial Disclosure: By law the chief executive, cabinet, judges, members of the Legislative Assembly and Executive Council, and a range of senior public officials must disclose their financial interests upon appointment, promotion, retirement, and at five-year intervals while in the same position. Disclosures are publicly available on the internet and noncompliance results in financial penalties.

Public Access to Information: The law does not provide for public access to government information. Nevertheless, the executive branch published online, in both Portuguese and Chinese, extensive information on laws, regulations, ordinances, government policies and procedures, and biographies of principal government officials. The government also issued a daily press release on topics of public concern. While the legislature also provided information on matters of public concern, the information provided was less extensive.


Section 5. Governmental Attitude Regarding International and Nongovernmental Investigation of Alleged Violations of Human Rights

A variety of domestic and international human rights groups generally operated without government restriction, investigating and publishing their findings on human rights cases. Government officials often were cooperative and responsive to their views.


Section 6. Discrimination, Societal Abuses, and Trafficking in Persons

The law stipulates that residents shall be free from discrimination based on race, gender, disability, language, social status, or communicable disease status, and many laws carry specific prohibitions against discrimination. The government effectively enforced the law. The law does not address discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity, and it does not penalize those who have been discriminated against on the basis of HIV-positive status or other communicable diseases.

Women

Rape and Domestic Violence: The law criminalizes rape, including spousal rape and domestic violence, and the government effectively enforced the law. Police received 37 complaints of rape and made 21 arrests during the last six months of 2014 and the first six months of 2015.

The government effectively used laws criminalizing the relevant behaviors to prosecute domestic violence. The Legislative Assembly passed Macau's first domestic violence prevention law in January, but same-sex couples are not under its purview. Under the new law, a victim can decide whether to pursue charges if the consequences of the violence are "mild." Various NGOs and some government officials considered domestic violence against women to be a growing problem. Domestic violence falls under several crimes in the criminal code, including the crime of mistreatment of minors, persons with incapacity, or spouses. These crimes are punishable with imprisonment ranging from one to five years. If mistreatment leads to serious physical injuries or death, the penalties may be increased to imprisonment of two to eight years in cases involving physical injury and five to 15 years in those resulting in death. There were 306 reported cases of domestic violence in the last six months of 2014 and the first six months of 2015.

The government referred victims to medical treatment, and medical social workers counseled victims and informed them of social welfare services. During the first half of the year, the Social Welfare Bureau handled 50 domestic violence cases. The government funded NGOs, including religious groups, to provide victim support services, including medical services, family counseling, and housing. The government also supported 24-hour hotlines for reporting and counseling in domestic violence cases.

The Bureau for Family Action, a government organization subordinate to the Department of Family and Community of the Social Welfare Institute, provided shelters for female victims of domestic violence and their children and advice about legal actions against perpetrators. A range of counseling services was available to persons who requested them at social service centers. Two government-supported religious programs also offered rehabilitation programs for female victims of violence.

Sexual Harassment: There is no law specifically addressing sexual harassment, unless it involves the use of a position of authority to coerce the performance of physical acts. Harassment in general is prohibited under laws governing equal opportunity, employment and labor rights, and labor relations.

Reproductive Rights: Couples and individuals had the right to decide the number, spacing, and timing of their children, to manage their reproductive health and to both fertility and contraceptive treatment, free from discrimination, coercion, and violence. Access to information on family planning, contraception, and prenatal care was widely available, as was skilled attendance at delivery and postpartum care.

Discrimination: Equal opportunity legislation mandates that women receive equal pay for equal work. Discrimination in hiring practices based on gender or physical ability is prohibited by law, and penalties exist for employers who violate these guidelines. The law allows for civil suits, but few women took cases to the Labor Affairs Bureau (LAB) or other entities. Gender differences in the workforce existed, with women concentrated in lower-paid sectors and lower-level jobs. Observers estimated there was a significant difference in salaries between men and women, particularly among those with unskilled jobs. The CAC received one complaint of gender discrimination during the period from July 2014 through June 2015.

Children

Birth Registration: According to the Basic Law, children of Chinese national residents of Macau who were born in or outside the SAR and children born to non-Chinese national permanent residents inside the SAR are regarded as permanent residents. There is no differentiation between these categories in terms of access to birth registration. Most births were registered immediately.

Child Abuse: One case of child abuse was reported to the authorities from July 2014 through June 2015. The SAR's Health Bureau handled seven suspected child abuse cases during the year, most of which it transferred to appropriate governmental or non-governmental institutions for follow up after hospitalization. In addition to criminalizing abuse, neglect, and violence against children, the law establishes relief measures for children at risk. The Social Welfare Bureau reported providing assistance in five cases (not all new) of child abuse or neglect from July 2014 through June 2015.

Early and Forced Marriage: The minimum age for marriage is 16. Children between ages 16 and 18 who wish to marry must get approval from their parents or guardians.

Sexual Exploitation of Children: The law specifically provides for criminal punishment for sexual abuse of children and students, statutory rape, and procurement involving minors. The criminal code sets 14 years as the age of sexual consent and 16 as the age for participation in the legal sex trade. The law prohibits child pornography and the sexual exploitation of children, with harsher penalties for aggravated cases. There was one suspected case of child sexual abuse and three reported cases of rape of a minor from July 2014 through June 2015.

International Child Abductions: The SAR is a party to the 1980 Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction.

Anti-Semitism

The Jewish population was extremely small, and there were no reports of anti-Semitic acts.

Trafficking in Persons

See the Department of State's Trafficking in Persons Report.

Persons with Disabilities

The law prohibits discrimination against persons with physical, sensory, intellectual, and mental disabilities in employment, education, access to health care, or the provision of other state services, but not in air travel or other transportation. The government generally enforced these provisions. The law mandates access to buildings, public facilities, information, and communications for persons with disabilities. The government enforced the law effectively. The government provides a variety of services to persons with disabilities, including discounted fares on wheelchair-accessible public transportation. The Social Welfare Institute was primarily responsible for coordinating and funding public assistance programs to persons with disabilities. There was a governmental commission to rehabilitate persons with disabilities, with part of the commission's scope of work addressing employment.

National/Racial/Ethnic Minorities

Although the government has made efforts to address the complaints of individuals of Portuguese descent and the Macanese minority, members of these two groups continued to claim they were not treated equally by the Chinese majority.

Acts of Violence, Discrimination, and Other Abuses Based on Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity

There are no laws criminalizing sexual orientation or same-sex sexual contact and no prohibition against lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and intersex (LGBTI) persons forming organizations or associations. There were no reports of violence against persons based on their sexual orientation or gender identity. LGBTI groups openly held several public events, and one registered LGBTI group openly lobbied for an extension of protections to same-sex couples in a law on domestic violence.


Section 7. Worker Rights

a. Freedom of Association and the Right to Collective Bargaining

The law provides workers the right to form and join unions or "labor associations" of their choice. The law does not provide for collective bargaining, and while workers have the right to strike, there is no specific protection in the law from retribution if workers exercise this right. The law prohibits antiunion discrimination, stating employees or job seekers shall not be prejudiced, deprived of any rights, or exempted from any duties on the basis of their membership in an association. The law does not require reinstatement of workers dismissed for union activity. The government asserted striking employees are protected from retaliation by provisions of the law requiring an employer to have justified cause to dismiss an employee.

Workers in certain professions, such as the security forces, are forbidden to form unions, take part in protests, or to strike. Such groups had organizations that provided welfare and other services to members and could speak to the government on behalf of members. Vulnerable groups of workers, including domestic and migrant workers, could freely associate and form and join unions, as could most public servants.

In order to register as an official union, the government requires an organization to provide the names and personal information of its leadership. There is no law specifically defining the status and function of labor unions, nor are employers compelled to negotiate with them. The law provides that agreements between employers and workers shall be valid.

The government generally enforced the relevant legislation. The law imposes penalties ranging from MOP 20,000 to 50,000 ($2,500 to $6,300) for antiunion discrimination. Observers noted this may not be sufficient to deter discriminatory activity.

Workers who believed they were dismissed unlawfully could bring a case to court or lodge a complaint with the LAB or the CAC, which also has an Ombudsman Bureau to handle complaints over administrative violations. The bureau makes recommendations to the relevant government departments after its investigation.

Even without formal collective bargaining rights, companies often negotiated with unions, although the government regularly acted as an intermediary. There was no indication disputes or appeals were subject to lengthy delays. Pro-PRC unions traditionally have not attempted to engage in collective bargaining. The Macau Federation of Trade Unions acts as an adviser and assistant to those filing complaints to the LAB, which is responsible for adjudicating labor disputes.

b. Prohibition of Forced or Compulsory Labor

The law prohibits all forms of forced or compulsory labor. Penalties range from three to 12 years' imprisonment with minimum and maximum sentences increased by one-third if the victim is under the age of 14. Observers considered these penalties to be generally sufficient to deter the use of forced labor. The government has a special interagency unit to fight human trafficking, the Human Trafficking Deterrent Measures Concern Committee. In addition to holding seminars to raise awareness about human trafficking, the committee operates two 24-hour telephone hotlines, one for reporting trafficking, and another to assist trafficking victims.

There were reports forced labor occurred in conjunction with commercial sexual exploitation of migrant women.

Also see the Department of State's Trafficking in Persons Report.

c. Prohibition of Child Labor and Minimum Age for Employment

A chief executive's order prohibits minors under the age of 16 from working, although minors between ages 14 and 16 may work in "exceptional circumstances" if they obtain a health certificate to prove they have the "necessary robust physique to engage in a professional activity." The decree does not define "exceptional circumstances." The law governing the number of working hours (eight hours a day, up to 48 hours a week) was equally applicable to adults and legal working minors, but the law prohibits minors from working overtime.

The law forbids minors below age 16 from certain types of work, including but not limited to domestic work, employment between 9:00 p.m. and 7:00 a.m., and employment at places that forbid the admission of minors, such as casinos. The government requires employers to assess the nature, extent, and duration of risk exposure at work before recruiting or employing a minor. The government intends these regulations to protect children from physically hazardous work, including exposure to dangerous chemicals, and jobs deemed age-inappropriate.

The LAB enforced the law through periodic and targeted inspections, and prosecuted violators. Information on the penalties for violations was not available. Employers are obligated to provide professional training and working conditions appropriate to a minor's age to prevent situations that undermine education or endanger health, safety, and physical and mental development.

Child labor occurred. Some children reportedly worked in family-operated or small businesses, while others were subject to commercial sexual exploitation (see section 6, Children).

d. Discrimination with Respect to Employment or Occupation

Local law requires employers to provide equal pay for equal work.

Under the law migrant workers enjoy equal treatment with local workers, including the same rights, obligations, and remuneration. According to official statistics, at the end of June 2015 there were 180,523 nonresident workers accounting for approximately 28 percent of the population. They came mostly from the mainland PRC, Hong Kong, Indonesia, the Philippines, and Vietnam. Most worked in the restaurant and hotel industry, though others found employment in gaming and entertainment, construction, retail, or domestic service sectors. They frequently complained of discrimination in the workplace.

The Labor Relations Law forbids discrimination on the basis of national or social origin, descent, race, color, gender, sexual orientation, age, marital status, language, religion, political or ideological beliefs, membership of associations, education, or economic background (see Section 6, Women). Employers who discriminate on these bases can be fined between MOP 2,500 ($312) and MOP 12,500 ($1,562) per relevant worker. The law does not explicitly prohibit discrimination on the basis of HIV status.

e. Acceptable Conditions of Work

Labor laws establish the general principle of fair wages and mandate compliance with wage agreements. A mandatory minimum wage for security guards and cleaners of MOP 30 ($3.75) per hour, MOP 240 ($30) per day, or MOP 6,240 ($780) per month will become effective from January 1, 2016. There is no minimum wage for other types of work. The SAR does not calculate an official poverty line; the median monthly income is approximately MOP 13,000 ($1,625). The law provides for a 48-hour workweek (though many businesses operated on a 40-hour workweek), an eight-hour workday, paid overtime, annual leave, and medical and maternity care. The law provides for a 24-hour rest period each week. The law does not define "temporary contract" or "short-term contract." It states only that a labor contract may be either for a defined term or of indefinite duration. All full-time workers employed in the SAR, whether under a term contract or an indefinite contract, are entitled to such benefits as specified working hours, weekly leave, statutory holidays, annual leave, and sick leave. Part-time workers and workers on temporary contracts are not entitled to these benefits.

The law requires employers to provide a safe working environment, and the LAB sets occupational safety and health (OSH) standards. The law prohibits excessive overtime but permits overtime (up to eight hours per day, and irrespective of workers' consent) in force majeure cases or as a response to external shocks, at the discretion of the employer.

All workers, including migrants, have access to the courts in cases of unlawful dismissal, failure to pay compensation, or other violations of rights. A case before the Labor Affairs Bureau involving 65 migrant workers whose wages were determined to have been illegally withheld continued as of June. Employers can dismiss staff "without just cause" if they provide economic compensation indexed to an employee's length of service.

The LAB provides assistance and legal advice to workers upon request, and cases of labor-related malpractices are referred to the LAB. Data on the number of cases assisted by the LAB during the year was not available.

The LAB enforced OSH regulations, and failure to correct infractions could lead to prosecution. There were approximately 140 labor inspectors in the SAR, almost all of whom held university degrees and most of whom had more than five years' experience. Health Bureau guidelines protect pregnant workers and those with heart and lung diseases from exposure to secondhand smoke by exempting them from work in smoking areas.

Local employers favored unwritten labor contracts of indefinite duration, except in the case of migrant workers, who were issued written contracts for specified terms. Labor groups reported employers increasingly used temporary contracts to circumvent obligations to pay for worker benefits such as pensions, sick leave, and paid holidays. The short-term nature of written contracts made it easier to dismiss workers through nonrenewal. Some workers also reported that employers dismissed them for refusing to work in unhealthy environments.

The SAR recorded 7,220 victims of workplace accidents from July 2014 through June 2015. Authorities recorded 22 workplace fatalities, of which eight were judged to have possible links to the individuals' pre-existing health conditions. Most workplace injuries reported were minor, with one in six injured workers returning to their duties the same day. Workplace injuries permanently incapacitated 23 people.

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