Press Releases

LCQ10: Credibility of and recommendations made by Equal Opportunities Commission

     Following is a question by the Dr Hon Fernando Cheung and a written reply by the Secretary for Constitutional and Mainland Affairs, Mr Raymond Tam, in the Legislative Council today (May 11):


     The Equal Opportunities Commission (EOC), established in 1996, is responsible for enforcing the Sex Discrimination Ordinance (Cap 480), the Disability Discrimination Ordinance (Cap 487), the Family Status Discrimination Ordinance (Cap 527) and the Race Discrimination Ordinance (Cap 602). Regarding the credibility of and recommendations made by EOC, will the Government inform this Council:

(1) given the comments that as the mechanism for appointing the chairperson of EOC is not in line with the principles relating to the status of national institutions for the protection and promotion of human rights (the Paris Principles), which have been adopted by the United Nations (UN), the independence of EOC and its capability to monitor the Government and public organisations have been called into question as a result, and that several UN treaty bodies have recommended the Government of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region to set up a statutory, independent and autonomous human rights commission with a broad mandate in accordance with the Paris Principles, whether the Government will consider the recommendation afresh; if it will, of the details of the relevant work and the implementation timetable; if not, the reasons for that;

(2) given that EOC submitted to the Government its recommendations on amending the provisions of the Sex Discrimination Ordinance and the Disability Discrimination Ordinance in 1999 and 2011 respectively, of the progress of the Government's work in implementing such recommendations (set out the information by ordinance and recommendation in a table); and

(3) given that EOC, after conducting a comprehensive review of the four aforesaid ordinances and a public consultation exercise, submitted to the Government the Discrimination Law Review - Submissions to the Government on March 29 this year, whether the Government will adopt the 73 recommendations put forward by EOC in its Submissions, as well as introduce legislative amendments and conduct public consultation with regard to the recommendations; if it will, of the details of the relevant work and the implementation timetable; if not, the reasons for that?



     In consultation with the Labour and Welfare Bureau, we would like to respond to the question raised by the Dr Hon Cheung as follows:

(1) The fundamental rights and duties of Hong Kong residents are stipulated in detail in Chapter III of the Basic Law, with specific provisions and safeguards provided in the Hong Kong Bill of Rights Ordinance and other relevant ordinances. Under the existing institutional framework, a number of organisations help promote and safeguard various rights. These include the Equal Opportunities Commission (EOC) and the Office of the Privacy Commissioner for Personal Data, which are independent bodies with statutory powers as established by relevant ordinances. Besides, the Government submits reports on international conventions applicable to Hong Kong to the United Nations periodically through the Central People's Government. According to the Basic Law, the executive authorities are subject to scrutiny by the legislature, and policies of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region Government are also monitored by the public and the media. Therefore, we consider that the existing mechanism has worked well and that there is no need for establishing a human rights commission to duplicate or replace the work of the existing mechanism.

(2) With regard to the legislative amendments proposed by the EOC to the Government in 1999 and 2011, we provided information on their progress to the Legislative Council (LegCo) Panel on Constitutional Affairs via LC Paper No. CB(2)1826/12-13(01) in August 2013 (see Annex). Since providing the aforementioned document, the six recommendations set out in paragraphs 4(b) and (c) of the document, as awaiting introduction to the LegCo, have been implemented through the enactment of the Statute Law (Miscellaneous Provisions) Ordinance 2014 and the Sex Discrimination (Amendment) Ordinance 2014 in November and December 2014 respectively. For the recommendations set out in paragraphs 4(d) and 4(e) of the document, the EOC further examined them, and no longer raised the recommendation in paragraph 4(d) in the Discrimination Law Review report published in March this year, and has continued to raise the three recommendations in paragraph 4(e) but with adjustment on their priorities.

(3) We have received the EOC's report on the review of the four anti-discrimination ordinances. We noted that the report covered a wide range of issues and contained a total of 73 recommendations, including 27 which were considered by the EOC to be of higher priority. We also noticed that the report contained some relatively complicated and sensitive issues, and the public have expressed strong and divergent views on these issues. We will carefully study the content of the report and consider how to follow up on the recommendations, and maintain liaison with the EOC.

Ends/Wednesday, May 11, 2016
Issued at HKT 15:53