Street Law – Human Rights Community Education
Principal Investigator: Lindsay Ernst
Project Period: 04/09/2014 -31/12/2018
Funding Source: Skadden Fellowship Foundation (pure donation)
Towards the Development of A Human Rights Impact Assessment for Social Welfare Policies in Hong Kong
Principal Investigator: Karen Kong
Project Period: 05/06/2016 – 04/12/2015
Funding Source: Small Project Funding
Hong Kong Equality & the Law Project
Principal Investigator: Kelley Loper
Project Period: April 2008 – December 2009
Funding Source: Seed Funding Programme for Basic Research
In mid-1995 the Hong Kong legislature enacted the territory’s first detailed anti-discrimination legislation in the areas of sex and disability discrimination. This represented an important and innovative development in the protection of human rights in Hong Kong and posed considerable challenges to all those who will be affected by the legislation or who have a role in implementing or monitoring compliance with it. The Equal Opportunities Commission (EOC) was established to oversee the legislation’s implementation in May 1996 and the legislation entered into force in late 1996. The Family Status Discrimination Ordinance enacted in mid-1997 entered into force on 21 November 1997. A Consultation Paper on legislation against racial discrimination was published in September 2004 by the Hong Kong SAR Home Affairs Bureau and a race discrimination billwas tabled in the Legislative Council in December 2006. Unfortunately the proposed Bill was not only confusing and inconsistent in its application with the mechanisms of both the Sex Discrimination Ordinance (SOD) and Disability Discrimination Ordinance (DDO)–parts of it actually appear to promote discrimination. Requests to the Government was met with a “take it or leave it” reply. Members of the Law Faculty Ms. Vandana Rajwani and Ms. Kelley Loper, with Mr Mr. Law Yuk Kai (Hong Kong Human Rights Monitor) and other activists turned to the United Nations Committee on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination in Geneva to persuade the Committee to review this issue even though HK/China was not on the agenda. The Committee analysed the Bill and noted that it was potentially in violation of the UN CERD Convention. It then formally agreed to review the issue, which has been officially included in the agenda. The Hong Kong Government finally agreed to amend several key provisions of the Bill. Submission to the CERD Committee by Ms Kelley Loper
Press Release by Legislator Ms. Margaret Ng’s office (Chinese Version)
Letter to HK/China issued by the CERD Committee
Enforcing Equal Opportunities in Hong Kong
Principal Investigator: Carole Petersen
Co-Investigators: Andrew Byrnes, Cecilia Chan, Katherine Lynch
Senior Research Assistants: Janice Fong and Gabrielle Rush
Project Period: December 2000 – May 2003
Funding Source: Research Grants Council Competitive Earmarked Research Grant
CCPL concluded a major study of investigation, conciliation, and other enforcement mechanisms of the EOC in 2003. When anti-discrimination laws were first proposed in Hong Kong, the issue of enforcement was debated at length, both in the legislature and the community. Traditional litigation in the courts was considered insufficient. Instead, the Hong Kong Equal Opportunities Commission was created and endowed with a wide range of powers, including the power to investigate and conciliate complaints. While complainants still have the option of suing in the courts, the high cost of litigating means that most complainants turn to the Commission for assistance and it has a statutory obligation to attempt to conciliate a complaint before even considering an application for legal assistance. As a result, the vast majority of complaints filed with the EOC will never be litigated in court. Unlike court decisions, the results of conciliated cases are not normally published. Thus a dedicated research project was necessary to analyze and assess such cases. Critical issues include: the types of complaints filed; expectations of complainants and respondents; local attitudes towards conciliation; the willingness of parties to participate in face-to-face conferences; and the relationship between various factors and the remedy obtained. The Commission’s use of other enforcement powers (such as the power to conduct formal investigations, fund litigation, and seek judicial review of government action) was also studied, as these powers can be particularly effective against certain types of systemic discrimination. The study also assessed the impact of judicial interpretation of the legislation (as this can influence the Commission’s ability to promote compliance with the law and conciliate complaints).
Submissions and Policy Papers
Response Paper: Submission for Public Consultation on the Discrimination Law Review: November 2014
The Hong Kong Equal Opportunities Commission launched a Discrimination Law Review in July 2014. In light of this, Antonio Da Roza, Farzana Aslam and Kelley Loper prepared varying responses to the consultation for joint submission to the consultation. These responses to the public consultation exercise highlight some of the limitations and disappointing omissions of Hong Kong’s current body of anti-discrimination legislation. It is hoped that the review process will help the EOC raise awareness about the urgent need for law reform and advocate for actualization of such reform.
Conference and Seminar Papers
Conference: Enforcing Equal Opportunities in Hong Kong: An Evaluation of Conciliation and Other Enforcement Powers of the EOC, 14 June 2003 Detail
- Speech by Ms. Carole Petersen, Associate Professor and Director of the Centre for Comparative and Public Law, Faculty of Law, HKU [PDF]
- Speech by Ms. Katherine Lynch, Associate Professor, Faculty of Law, HKU [PDF]
- Speech by Professor Cecilia Chan, Director, Centre on Behavioral Health, HKU [PDF]
- Key findings from a study of 451 complaints concluded by the EOC between 1 July 2000 and 31 March 2001, by Ms. Gabrielle Rush [PDF]
- Investigation and Conciliation of Discrimination Complaints in Hong Kong: Statistical Analysis of 451 Complaint Files and Commentary, by Carole J. Petersen, Janice Fong, and Gabrielle Rush [pdf]
Public Lecture: Pru Goward and Anna Wu, The Right to Equal Opportunity: Lessons from Australia, 11 March 2003 [PDF]
Organized by CCPL and the Australian Consulate-General in Hong Kong.
The Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission of Australia has broad powers, including public education, investigation and conciliation of complaints, human rights compliance, and advising on policy and legislative development. Ms. Goward has served as the Australian Federal Sex Discrimination Commissioner for the Commission since June 2001 and previously headed the Office of the Status of Women, where she presided over the introduction of the first national programme for the prevention of domestic violence. Ms. Goward will speak about the challenges of enforcing anti-discrimination legislation, the experience of the Australian Commission, and the importance of maintaining independence from government. Following her lecture, Ms. Goward took questions and joined Ms. Anna Wu, Chairperson of the Hong Kong Equal Opportunities Commission, for a panel discussion.
A Decade of the Bill of Rights and the ICCPR in Hong Kong: Review and Prospects, 12 January 2002
In 1991 the Bill of Rights Ordinance (the BRO) was enacted in Hong Kong, incorporating the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights into Hong Kong’s domestic law. CCPL hosted a conference to review the impact that this legislation has had in the past decade and to discuss controversial issues that may arise in the years to come. Professor Albert Chen opened the Conference and Justice Frank Stock delivered the opening speech. The Hon. Ms. Margaret Ng then spoke on the impact that the BRO has had on policy making and legislation and Andrew Bruce spoke on the impact upon Criminal Law. In the second Session, Paul Harris addressed the impact in the Civil Law field and Andrew Byrnes offered a comparative perspective, including lessons that may be learned from recent experience with the Human Rights Act in the United Kingdom. Commentators included: Professor Johannes Chan, Ms. Carole Petersen and Mr. Simon Young.
- Ten years of the Bill of Rights and the ICCPR in Criminal Proceedings by Andrew Bruce, SC [PDF]
- Jumpstarting the Hong Kong Bill of Rights in its Second Decade? The Relevance of International and Comparative Jurisprudence by Andrew Byrnes [PDF]
- The Impact of the Bill of Rights Ordinance and the ICCPR on Hong Kong Civil Law by Paul Harris [PDF]