|HKSAR Government finds Amnesty International Report disappointing
In response to the Amnesty International Report 2005, a Government spokesman today (May 26) said, "We are deeply disappointed by the report which has painted a picture contrary to Hong Kong's respect for human rights and our established reputation as an open, inclusive and tolerant city.
"The Government is firmly committed to the protection of human rights which are underpinned by the rule of law administered by an independent judiciary and are entrenched in the Basic Law, the Bill of Rights and many other local enactments.
"It is widely accepted, both locally and internationally, that Hong Kong is one of the freest societies in Asia. The rights and freedoms enjoyed by Hong Kong people remain as strong as they were ever before reunification. The Government will not allow anything to compromise the exercise of these freedoms by our citizens.
"On the constitutional development of Hong Kong, apart from reaffirming the ultimate aim of electing the Chief Executive (CE) and the Legislative Council by universal suffrage as stipulated in the Basic Law, the decision made by the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress in April last year has clarified the scope for changes to the two electoral methods.
"We should make the best possible use of the room available to broaden public participation in the electoral process and enhance the representativeness of the systems, laying a stronger foundation for Hong Kong in our move towards universal suffrage.
"The consultation for the fourth report issued by the Constitutional Development Task Force will end in May. Our plan is to publish the fifth report outlining a mainstream proposal later in the year after consulting the new CE.
"Freedom of expression is very much alive in Hong Kong. Demonstrations are an everyday occurrence. We have a vocal and lively media which continues relentlessly to exercise its role of holding the Government accountable to the public. The Paris-based Reporters Without Borders recently rated Hong Kong as having the freest press in Asia.
"Any suspected unlawful activities which threaten our freedoms will be pursued by our enforcement agencies vigorously.
"The Government is also keenly aware of the need for promoting non-discrimination and fostering a culture of tolerance and mutual respect.
"After a five-month consultation period, we are in the process of drafting a bill to outlaw racial discrimination. We hope to introduce the bill into LegCo later this year.
"The Government will continue to work to promote equal opportunities."
Ends/Thursday, May 26, 2005