Published: 18:05, May 13, 2023 | Updated: 09:52, May 14, 2023
Hong Kong govt strives to protect women's rights
By Wang Zhan

Pedestrians walk on a footbridge in Hong Kong, Oct 19, 2022. (PHOTO / AP)

HONG KONG – A delegation of the Hong Kong government has addressed concerns on situation of women's development in the special administrative region raised at meetings of UN Committee on Elimination of Discrimination against Women.

Attending the meetings of the UN Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) as part of the Chinese delegation and responding to the committee’s questions on Friday, the delegation emphasized the SAR government’s full commitment to protect women against all forms of discrimination, injustice or violence.

Responding to the committee's concerns on Hong Kong National Security Law, the delegation said Article 4 of the security law clearly stipulates that human rights shall be respected and protected in safeguarding national security in Hong Kong, a government spokesman said in a statement.

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The rights and freedoms Hong Kong residents enjoy under the Basic Law and the provisions of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights as well as the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights as applied to Hong Kong shall be protected in accordance with the law, it said.

The delegation stressed that Article 26 of the Basic Law stipulates that all permanent residents of the HKSAR shall have the right to vote and the right to stand for election in accordance with law.

Spokesman, HKSAR Govt

“Any measures or enforcement actions taken under the NSL must observe the above principle. Hence, the rights and freedoms under the CEDAW are fully protected in Hong Kong.” 

On women’s participation in political and public order events, the SAR delegation said Article 26 of the Basic Law stipulates that all permanent residents of Hong Kong have the right to vote and the right to stand for election in accordance with law.

“In HKSAR, women enjoy equal rights as men to vote in and stand for various public elections of the governance structure. Under the relevant legislation, a person's gender is not a criterion, whether direct or indirect, to vote in or stand for elections."

The delegation also said Article 92 of the Basic Law provides that judges and other members of the Judiciary shall be chosen on the basis of their judicial and professional qualities and may be recruited from other common law jurisdictions, adding that gender is not a relevant consideration in judicial appointment.

Regarding non-discrimination, the delegation noted that the Discrimination Legislation (Miscellaneous Amendments) Ordinance 2020 was enacted in June 2020 to take forward the Equal Opportunities Commission 's recommendations to enhance protection against harassment under the four anti-discrimination ordinances, including the prohibition of such acts as discrimination of breastfeeding women and harassment between participants in a common workplace.

“The government also separately introduced a legislative proposal to amend the Sex Discrimination Ordinance to provide protection against harassment of breastfeeding women,” whereby discrimination and harassment on the ground of breastfeeding are prohibited with effect from June 2021, said the spokesman.

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Regarding the Committee's concern about the change of employer of foreign domestic helpers (FDHs), the delegation said the SAR government fully respects the rights of the FDHs. 

“Same as local workers, FDHs are protected under the Employment Ordinance,” it said, adding that additional benefits are also given under a government-prescribed Standard Employment Contract.