A group of 45 civil society organisations have submitted more than 100 suggestions to the United Nations relating to Hong Kong’s “deteriorating rule of law and human rights environment.”
The joint submission was made to the UN Human Rights Council for the third Universal Periodic Review (UPR) on China, which will take place in November and will be attended by Hong Kong government officials. The last UPR was held in 2013, and the groups suggested that a lot has changed in Hong Kong since then.
“The increasing erosion of fundamental freedoms in Hong Kong will be under the international spotlight in the coming months. The UPR is an opportunity for the government to show it is serious in upholding its human rights obligations,” said Simon Henderson, the spokesperson for the coalition of civil groups.
Henderson said that the review on Hong Kong is considered part of China’s, but although the UN made 300 suggestions relating to China in 2013, none were made for Hong Kong. He said it was the first time Hong Kong groups had come together to provide such a large number of suggestions.
The coalition includes concern groups on disabilities, gender recognition, freedom of speech, gay rights, domestic worker rights, environment, open data and ethnic minorities, among others.
“The submission provides a roadmap of specific, measurable and achievable recommendations for Hong Kong to abide by its human rights commitments and restore its international standing. Many reflect long outstanding recommendations by the United Nations which the Hong Kong government has ignored,” Henderson said.
The groups called upon the government to adopt a comprehensive human rights ordinance to incorporate all international human rights treaties that apply to Hong Kong in domestic legislation. It should also amend the Public Order Ordinance – including sections on disorder in public places and unlawful assembly – to ensure it is in line with international regulations.
They said the government should only propose the national security law after universal suffrage has been fully implemented, to ensure it fully complies with international standards.
The government should also investigate physical assaults and threats towards activists and media workers, they said, as well as investigate the detention and abduction of booksellers.
They said the government should enable all political parties – including pro-independence ones – to register as societies or companies, as some have not been able to do so in recent years. The government should legislate to protect the rights of all persons to stand for election, regardless of their political views, they said.
They said the government should lower the threshold for granting international protection to asylum seekers and refugees, and grant them the right to work in the city.
The group also asked the government to adopt a comprehensive law to combat human trafficking and forced labour, and adopt laws to prohibit discrimination on grounds of sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression and sex characteristics.
The government is currently conducting an one-month public consultation on the section concerning Hong Kong in China’s report.
“The UPR is a test for the government to show that it is truly committed to protecting Hong Kong’s core values,” Henderson said, as he urged different sections of the community to participate.