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Government's response to comments on protection against racial discrimination in Hong Kong

     A Government spokesman reaffirms today (July 30) the Government's commitment to reinforce protection against racial discrimination and promote racial equality in Hong Kong. 

     "The enactment of the Race Discrimination Ordinance is a major step in strengthening the legal framework for prohibiting racial discrimination. The Government had fully taken into account views received during the legislative process and incorporated appropriate amendments in the Ordinance. The Ordinance came into full operation earlier this month. The Government will work closely with the Equal Opportunities Commission (EOC) to monitor the implementation of the Ordinance," the spokesman said. 

     "Following the publication of the report by the Public Accounts Committee of the Legislative Council, the Administration is working closely with the EOC to strengthen its governance. We are also making preparation for the appointment of a new EOC Chairperson, to take office when the term of appointment of the existing Chairperson expires in January 2010, through an open recruitment exercise.

     "The Government is committed to providing support services to ethnic minorities to facilitate their integration into the community. We have granted funds for non-government organisations to establish and operate four support service centres for ethnic minorities. These centres are commencing operation in these few months.

     "In addition, the Government is consulting various parties on the draft Administrative Guidelines on Promotion of Racial Equality, which provide general guidance to relevant public authorities to promote racial equality and ensure equal access to public services in key areas. We will take into account views expressed by relevant parties before finalising the Guidelines.

     "To facilitate non-Chinese speaking students to learn the Chinese language, the Government has put in place a number of educational support measures, in terms of curriculum adaptation, provision of teaching and learning materials, after-school support services, etc. to cater for their special needs.

     "The Government also attaches great importance to protecting the rights of foreign domestic helpers (FDHs). In Hong Kong, statutory rights and benefits enjoyed by local workers are equally enjoyed by migrant workers (including FDHs) regardless of their race. There are also additional rights and benefits for migrant workers, especially FDHs, which are not enjoyed by local workers.”

     "The employees retraining levy has been suspended up to July 31, 2013 for a total period of five years. Notwithstanding the levy suspension, the Government's overall policy that the operating expenses of the Employees Retraining Board should be primarily met by the levy income remains unchanged.

     "As regards the case of the shooting of a Nepalese man by a police constable, the coroner, upon considering the detailed Police investigation report, has already decided to hold a death inquest. The statutory requirements and the established practice for handling cases of this nature provide assurance that the coroner is capable of exercising his powers and functions independently and impartially," he said.

     Representatives from the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR) Government will attend a hearing in Geneva, Switzerland on August 7 and 10 held by the United Nations Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (the Committee), the treaty monitoring body for the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination (the Convention).
     The HKSAR Government team will be led by the Deputy Secretary for Constitutional and Mainland Affairs, Mr Arthur Ho. Other members of the team comprise officials from the Department of Justice, the Security Bureau, the Education Bureau, the Constitutional and Mainland Affairs Bureau and the Labour Department.
     The team will attend the hearing as part of China's delegation. During the hearing, the Committee will examine China's report which incorporates the report on the HKSAR. The team will update the Committee on recent developments in HKSAR on the implementation of the Convention in the HKSAR and answer questions raised by the Committee.

Ends/Thursday, July 30, 2009