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Full implementation of Race Discrimination Ordinance

     The Race Discrimination Ordinance (RDO) and related framework to promote racial equality and eliminate racial discrimination come into full operation today (July 10), a spokesman for the Constitutional and Mainland Affairs Bureau (CMAB) said today.
     Provisions of the RDO which are relevant to empowering the Equal Opportunities Commission (EOC) to exercise its functions under the ordinance were in operation since October last year.  The Secretary for Constitutional and Mainland Affairs has now appointed July 10 as the day on which the remaining provisions of the RDO come into operation.  The appointment is effected by a commencement notice published in the Gazette today. 

      "This represents a major milestone in reinforcing the legal protection against racial discrimination and promoting racial equality in the community," the spokesman said.

     The Equal Opportunities Commission is responsible for enforcing the RDO.  From today, the commission is empowered to handle complaints lodged on racial discrimination, and conduct investigation into related matters. 

     Also put into operation today are the Race Discrimination (Proceedings by the Equal Opportunities Commission) Regulation, the Code of Practice on Employment under the RDO and the two rules made by the Equal Opportunities Commission under the RDO - the Race Discrimination (Formal Investigations) Rules and the Race Discrimination (Investigation and Conciliation) Rules. 

     The Equal Opportunities Commission will also be responsible for conducting public education and publicity programmes on promoting equality of opportunity and harmony between people of different racial groups. 

     Additional funding support will be provided to the commission for the full implementation of the RDO, including the relevant promotion and public education efforts.

     At the same time, the Government will continue to enhance support service for ethnic minorities in order to facilitate their integration into the community.  

     The CMAB has earlier granted funds for four non-governmental organisations (NGOs) to establish and operate four support service centres for ethnic minorities in Hong Kong.  Two centres at Wan Chai and Yuen Long began operations in May and June respectively.  The other two centres will begin their services soon.  One of the centres will provide centralised telephone interpretation service to assist ethnic minorities in using of public services.

     The Race Relations Unit of the CMAB continues to provide other support services to ethnic minorities to meet their special needs, either directly or through NGOs.  These services include radio programmes in ethnic minority languages, the Mobile Information Service at the Airport, community support teams and community development teams for ethnic minorities, language classes and service guidebooks in minority languages.

Ends/Friday, July 10, 2009