Hong Kong 2003
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The Rights of the Individual

Article 39 of the Basic Law provides that the provisions of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) and the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR) as applied to Hong Kong shall remain in force. Additionally, the HKSAR continues to abide by the major international conventions on human rights. These include the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination (ICERD), the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (CAT), the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC), and the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW).

The HKSAR's second report in the light of the ICESCR was submitted, as part of China's first report under the covenant, to the United Nations (UN) in June 2003. The HKSAR's first report under the CRC was submitted to the UN as part of China's second report under the convention, also in June.

The Hong Kong Bill of Rights Ordinance, enacted in 1991 to give effect in domestic law to the provisions of the ICCPR, remains in force.

In 2003, the Government decided in principle to introduce a bill into the Legislative Council to prohibit racial discrimination in certain areas. A public consultation paper on the legislative proposals will be published in 2004. If all proceeds smoothly, the bill will be introduced into the Legislative Council in the 2004-05 legislative session.

To improve government services for the ethnic minorities, a Race Relations Unit was established in June 2002. Its work includes devising and producing publicity materials in minority languages1, maintaining a hotline for enquiries and complaints, outreach work to schools, and providing secretariat services to the Committee on the Promotion of Racial Harmony. The committee is an advisory body comprising non-government members with an active interest in race issues, and relevant government departments. The committee's functions include formulating proposals for race-related public education and publicity, and vetting Funding Scheme applications.

In 2003, an Ethnic Minorities Forum and a Human Rights Forum were established to strengthen the links between the Government and relevant NGOs.

The Steering Committee on New Arrival Services is a high level body that seeks to ensure that new arrivals — whatever their origin — know what services are available to them, that those services are delivered, and that the services so provided remain appropriate to the needs of the committee's target clientele. The committee is chaired by the Permanent Secretary for Home Affairs. Its members comprise representatives of government departments that provide key services and an NGO.


The Race Relations Unit has published a guidebook Your Guide to Services in Hong Kong in eight languages — English, Indonesian, Filipino, Thai, Sinhalese, Hindi, Nepali and Urdu — in order to help minority communities, both established and newly arrived, to adapt to life in Hong Kong.

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