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The Rights of the Individual

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Human Rights

Human rights cover many areas of Government activity and no one bureau can undertake responsibility for all of them. There is therefore a need for a co-ordinating function to enable the Government to make a coherent assessment of the way in which human rights treaties are implemented in practice. That role had been the responsibility of the Home Affairs Branch (subsequently the then Home Affairs Bureau) since 1993, when it conducted a government-wide review of all legislation in the light of the Hong Kong Bill of Rights Ordinance (BORO). The review led to the amendment of some forty legal provisions. Now, all legislation that predates the BORO conforms with its provisions. So too must all new legislation.

Following the re-organization of the Government Secretariat with effect from 1 July 2007, matters relating to human rights have now been under the Constitutional and Mainland Affairs Bureau (CMAB) for coordination.

Human Rights Reporting

A total of 15 United Nations (UN) human rights treaties apply to Hong Kong. Seven entail a reporting requirement and the other eight do not entail that requirement (see note). The seven treaties that require reporting are International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR), International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination (ICERD), Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (CAT), Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC), Convention on the Elimination of All forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) and Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD).

In addition, the United Nations Human Rights Council conducts a Universal Periodic Review on the human rights situation of all member states of the United Nations. The HKSAR's report was submitted to the UN as part of China's report.

The preparation of Hong Kong's reports under the CEDAW is under the responsibility of the Home and Youth Affairs Bureau (HYAB) and the preparation of relevant reports under the CRPD and CRC are under the responsibility of the Labour and Welfare Bureau (LWB). The preparation of the remaining reports under the other four treaties as well as Universal Periodic Review is coordinated by the CMAB. Before drafting the reports, the Government usually publish an outline with broad subject headings of the report to be submitted, and invite public views.

For further information of the human rights reports, please click here.

Hearing of Reports

HKSAR teams attend the hearings of our reports as part of the relevant Chinese delegation, except in the case of the ICCPR which they attend in their own right by special arrangement between the Central People's Government and the UN. At the hearings, delegates answer questions put to them by the UN Committees. Thereafter, relevant policy bureaux will publicise relevant concluding observations/review reports.

Note: Treaties applicable to Hong Kong that do not entail reporting obligations include: (a) International Agreement for the Suppression of the White Slave Traffic 1904; (b) International Convention for the Suppression of the White Slave Traffic 1910 and the Protocol amending the Agreement and the Convention 1949; (c) International Convention for the Suppression of the Traffic in Women and Children 1921; (d) Slavery Convention 1926 and the Protocol amending the Convention 1953; (e) Supplementary Convention on the Abolition of Slavery, the Slave Trade and Institutions and Practices Similar to Slavery 1956; (f) Convention on the Political Rights of Women 1952; (g) Convention Relating to the Status of Stateless Persons 1954; and (h) Convention on Consent to Marriage, Minimum Age for Marriage and Registration of Marriages 1962.