Polling hours extended to midnight

Protecting human rights assured

The Hong Kong Special Administrative Region Government today emphasised its full commitment to the protection of human rights to the United Nations Human Rights Committee.   Secretary for Constitutional & Mainland Affairs Erick Tsang led a delegation to attend the committee’s meetings on the Hong Kong SAR's fourth report in the light of the International Covenant on Civil & Political Rights (ICCPR) on July 7, 8 and 12 and he introduced the implementation of the ICCPR in the Hong Kong SAR.   In Mr Tsang's closing remarks, he stated that human rights are guaranteed constitutionally by both the Constitution and the Basic Law and are underpinned by the rule of law and an independent judiciary.   He noted that the provisions of the ICCPR as applied to the Hong Kong SAR have already been incorporated into local law by the Hong Kong Bill of Rights Ordinance. Both the Central People's Government and the Hong Kong SAR Government are determined to make "one country, two systems" a continued success.   During the three-day meeting, the government delegation answered the committee's questions and dispelled the committee's concerns and misunderstandings about the human rights conditions in the Hong Kong SAR.   The Hong Kong SAR Government pointed out that national security always falls within the purview of the central authorities and that the country has the right to legislate for the matter under the “one country, two systems” principle.   It explained that Article 4 or the National Security Law clearly stipulates that human rights shall be respected and protected in safeguarding national security in the Hong Kong SAR, whereas the rights and freedoms which Hong Kong SAR residents enjoy under, inter alia, the Basic Law and the provisions of the ICCPR as applied to Hong Kong, shall be protected in accordance with the law.   However, many rights and freedoms recognised in the ICCPR are not absolute, and may be restricted for reasons of national security or public order, etc.   Any law enforcement actions taken by Hong Kong law enforcement agencies are based on evidence, strictly according to the law, for the acts of the people or entities concerned, and have nothing to do with their background.   It added that trial by a panel of three judges instead of by a jury under specified circumstances will not undermine the defendants' right to a fair trial, and judges will deliver the reasons for the verdicts to ensure open justice.   Meanwhile, the Hong Kong SAR Government reiterated that Police's use of force during the 2019 serious violence was responsive, not abusive.   It pointed out that Police are under a statutory duty to take lawful measures to maintain public order and public safety. There are stringent guidelines on the use of force that are consistent with the international human rights norms and standards.   Regarding the concerns raised by the committee on the Hong Kong SAR's improved electoral system, the Hong Kong SAR Government said it strongly opposed the ungrounded accusations that were quoted during the meeting.   It noted that through establishing a democratic system that reflects the actual situation of Hong Kong, corresponds to the requirements of implementing “one country, two systems” and manifests Hong Kong's characteristics, the improved electoral system of the Hong Kong SAR puts in place solid institutional safeguards to ensure full implementation of the principle of “patriots administering Hong Kong”.   This is also conducive to enhancing the effective governance of the Hong Kong SAR, thereby achieving good governance for the public good and long-term stability and safety, it added.