Secretary for Constitutional and Mainland Affairs Erick Tsang Kwok-wai delivers his closing remarks at the meeting of the United Nations Human Rights Committee by videoconferencing on July 12, 2022. (PHOTO / INFORMATION SERVICES DEPARTMENT, HKSAR)
HONG KONG – The Hong Kong Special Administrative Region government on Tuesday reiterated its full commitment to the protection of human rights before the United Nations Human Rights Committee.
Secretary for Constitutional and Mainland Affairs Erick Tsang Kwok-wai made the statement during a meeting on the SAR's fourth report in the light of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR).
A SAR delegation led by Tsang attended the meetings of the Committee on July 7, 8 and 12 and introduced the implementation of the ICCPR in the Hong Kong, according to a government press release.
“During the three-day meeting, the delegation of the HKSAR government answered the Committee's questions, and dispelled the Committee's concerns and misunderstandings about the human rights conditions in the HKSAR," said a government spokesman.
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In his closing remarks, Tsang said human rights are guaranteed constitutionally by both the Constitution of the People's Republic of China and the Basic Law of the HKSAR, and are underpinned by the rule of law and an independent judiciary.
National Security Law
The HKSAR government elaborated on the various issues on the implementation of the National Security Law to address the Committee's queries and concerns regarding the Law.
Article 4 of the National Security Law clearly stipulates that human rights shall be respected and protected in safeguarding national security in the HKSAR, it said. “However, many rights and freedoms recognised in the ICCPR are not absolute, and may be restricted for reasons of national security and/or public order, etc.”
We strongly believe that improving the electoral system, ensuring 'patriots administering Hong Kong' and safeguarding the overall interests of society are conducive to the stable development of Hong Kong's democracy.
Spokesman, HKSAR Govt
Law enforcement actions taken by Hong Kong law enforcement agencies are based on evidence, strictly according to the law, and have nothing to do with the background of the persons or entities concerned, it added.
“The assignment of cases to individual designated judges remains to be the independent decisions of the Judiciary, not the Chief Executive. The National Security Law therefore does not undermine judicial independence or right to a fair hearing under Article 14 of the ICCPR."
Complaint against police
The SAR government reiterated that police's use of force during the 2019 serious violence was responsive, not abusive.
"The HKSAR government reiterated that there is a fair, impartial and effective two-tier police complaints system in Hong Kong,” said the spokesman.
Reiterating the judiciary's commitment to upholding the rule of law and judicial independence in the HKSAR guaranteed under the Basic Law, the government said all judges and judicial officers will continue to abide by the judicial oath and administer justice in full accordance with the law, without fear or favour, self-interest or deceit.
Improved electoral system
The Committee raised concern on the HKSAR's improved electoral system by quoting ungrounded accusations, which the SAR government strongly opposed.
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“We strongly believe that improving the electoral system, ensuring 'patriots administering Hong Kong' and safeguarding the overall interests of society are conducive to the stable development of Hong Kong's democracy."
Secretary for Constitutional and Mainland Affairs Erick Tsang Kwok-wai (front row, fifth right), leads the delegation of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region Government to attend the meeting of the United Nations Human Rights Committee by videoconferencing on July 12, 2022. Also in the photo are: (front row, from left) the Under Secretary for Constitutional and Mainland Affairs Clement Woo; Principal Assistant Secretary (Constitutional and Mainland Affairs) Cathy Li; Deputy Commissioner for Labour (Labour Administration) Raymond Ho; Senior Assistant Solicitor General (Human Rights) Vernon Loh; Acting Solicitor General Llewellyn Mui; Deputy Secretary for Security Apollonia Liu; Deputy Secretary for Security Shirley Yung; Deputy Commissioner of Police (Management) Joe Chow; and Deputy Secretary for Education Esmond Lee. (PHOTO / INFORMATION SERVICES DEPARTMENT, HKSAR)
The government said it is firmly committed to safeguarding the freedom of the press, which is protected under the Basic Law and the Hong Kong Bill of Rights Ordinance.
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“The media reports freely in Hong Kong and performs its role as a watchdog over public affairs."
Freedom of assembly, procession
Saying that the freedoms of assembly and procession in Hong Kong are fully protected, the spokesman said: “As stipulated in the ICCPR, restrictions can be prescribed by law if it is necessary to protect national security or public safety, public order, protection of public health or morals or the protection of the rights and freedoms of others.”
Freedom of association
During the meeting, the HKSAR government emphasized the freedom of association, the right and freedom to form and join trade unions, and to strike are protected by the Basic Law.
Rebutting unfounded allegations claiming the erosion of academic freedom in Hong Kong, the HKSAR government reiterated that such allegations are baseless, “as academic freedom is an important social value treasured by Hong Kong and is protected by the Basic Law, as well as a cornerstone of the higher education sector”.