27 July 2022
GENEVA (27 July 2022) – The UN Human Rights Committee on Wednesday published its findings on Hong Kong-China, Macao-China, Georgia, Ireland, Luxembourg and Uruguay, after examining the implementation of civil and political rights.
The findings contain the Committee’s main concerns and recommendations on the implementation of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, as well as positive aspects. Highlights include:
Hong Kong – China
The Committee was deeply concerned about the overly broad interpretation of Hong Kong’s National Security Law (NSL), which was passed by the National People’s Congress of China without consultation with the Hong Kong public. Since its enactment in 2020, the NSL has reportedly led to the arrests of over 200 people, including 12 children. The Committee underscored the shortcomings of the NSL, including the lack of clarity of “national security” and the possibility of transferring cases from Hong Kong to mainland China, which is not a State party to the Covenant, for investigation, prosecution, trial and execution of penalties. The Committee urged Hong Kong to take action to repeal the National Security Law and, in the meantime, refrain from applying it.
The Committee also raised concern about the excessive number of civil society organizations, such as trade unions and student unions, which have relocated or ceased to operate since the enactment of the NSL. It regretted that the Hong Kong government had not provided explicit assurances that civil society and their representatives engaging with the Committee in this review would be protected from charges under the NSL. The Committee requested that Hong Kong refrain from taking any action that could curb the freedom of association and ensure that members of civil society will not be prosecuted under the NSL for their participation in the current review.
Macao – China
The Committee expressed concern that several peaceful assemblies had been banned by the authorities because they were deemed to be promoting “purposes contrary to the law”. The Committee also questioned the use of recording devices by the police during other demonstrations and the risk of those recordings being misused. It asked Macao to ensure that any restrictions imposed on assemblies should comply with the strict requirements set out in the Covenant, and clarify the definition of “for purposes contrary to the law”.
The Committee noted with concern that recruitment agencies continue to charge migrant domestic workers excessive agency fees and that the Law on the Minimum Wage for Workers does not apply to non-resident domestic workers. It recommended that Macao take action to enhance the protection of migrant workers, especially migrant domestic workers, by providing effective complaint mechanisms to report abuse and exploitation.
The Committee was concerned about the lack of transparency in the procedure for the selection and appointment of judges as well as the concentration of powers within the High Council of Justice. It asked Georgia to safeguard the full independence, impartiality and safety of judges and prosecutors and prevent them from being influenced in their decision-making by political pressure. It also urged the State party to prevent and sanction any abuse of powers granted to the High Council of Justice.
While noting the June 2021 electoral reforms, the Committee expressed its concern about reported electoral irregularities in Georgia and called on the State party to ensure prompt, effective and independent investigations into such allegations. It also asked Georgia to foster a culture of political pluralism by ensuring a safe and secure environment for media workers to operate.
With regard to the alleged failure of the Commission of Inquiry into Mother and Child Homes to investigate all abuses committed in institutions where unmarried women were sent to give birth, the Committee asked Ireland to take measures to ensure all human rights violations in these institutions are fully recognised. It also called for establishing a transitional justice mechanism to fight impunity and guarantee the right to truth for all victims.
Concerning reports of increases in hate crime and discriminatory incidents, especially in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Committee recommended that Ireland redouble its efforts to combat hate speech and incitement to discrimination or violence based on race, ethnicity, religion or sexual orientation. It also called for improvement in data collection and effective measures to prevent and sanction hate speech.
Regarding the lack of prosecutions and convictions for acts of discrimination, the Committee expressed concern about the obstacles that limit access to justice for those wishing to lodge discrimination complaints. It recommended that Luxembourg strengthen the resourcing of the Centre for Equal Treatment and empower the independent body to initiate legal action on behalf of victims of discrimination.
Concerning the administrative detention of children and the rigid criteria for documentation requirements in the framework of family reunification, the Committee asked Luxembourg to amend its legislation to prohibit the immigration detention of children, and to apply a more flexible approach to family reunification applications for beneficiaries of international protection while ensuring that decisions are made without undue delay.
As violence against women remained a widespread phenomenon in the country, the Committee urged Uruguay to take measures to allocate the necessary financial, technical and human resources for the prevention, protection, punishment and redress of violence against women. It also asked the State party to ensure that all acts of violence against women and girls are promptly and thoroughly investigated.
With regard to the rising number of people deprived of their liberty, particularly women, and the significant increase in the number of deaths in custody, the Committee urged Uruguay to ensure that all deaths in custody are investigated; and that perpetrators are prosecuted and duly punished. It also asked the State party to solve the prison overcrowding problem effectively and reduce pre-trial detention.
The above findings, officially named Concluding Observations, are now available online on the session webpage.