UN Human Rights Committee publishes findings on Hong Kong, Macau, Georgia, Ireland, Luxembourg and Uruguay

GENEVA (July 27, 2022) – The UN Human Rights Committee on Wednesday released its findings on Hong Kong-China, Macao-China, Georgia, Ireland, Luxembourg and Uruguay after examining the implementation of civil and political rights.

The results contain the main concerns and recommendations of the Committee 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 consulting the Hong Kong public. Since it came into effect in 2020, the NSL has reportedly led to the arrests of over 200 people, including 12 children. The committee highlighted the NSL’s shortcomings, including the lack of clarity on “national security” and the ability to move cases from Hong Kong to mainland China, which is not a party to the compact, for investigation, prosecution, trial and execution of sentences. The committee urged Hong Kong to take action to repeal the National Security Law and refrain from applying it in the meantime.

The Committee also raised concerns about the excessive number of civil society organizations such as trade unions and student associations that have relocated or ceased operations since the NSL came into force. It regretted that the Hong Kong government had not provided specific assurances that civil society and its representatives dealing with the committee on this review would be protected from charges under the NSL. The committee urged Hong Kong not to take any action that could restrict freedom of association and to ensure that members of civil society are not prosecuted under the NSL for their participation in the current review.

The committee expressed concern that several peaceful gatherings had been banned by the authorities for allegedly promoting “unlawful purposes”. The committee also questioned the use of recording devices by police at other demonstrations and the risk of these recordings being misused. It called on Macau to ensure that any restrictions imposed on gatherings meet the pact’s stringent requirements and clarify the definition of “for unlawful purposes”.

The Committee noted with concern that recruitment agencies continue to charge exorbitant recruitment fees for foreign domestic workers and that the minimum wage for workers law does not apply to non-resident domestic workers. It recommended that Macao take steps to improve the protection of migrant workers, particularly migrant domestic workers, by providing effective grievance mechanisms to report abuse and exploitation.

The Committee was concerned about the lack of transparency in the process of selecting and appointing judges and the concentration of powers within the High Judicial Council. This called on Georgia to ensure the full independence, impartiality and security of judges and prosecutors and to prevent their decision-making from being influenced by political pressure. It also called on the State party to prevent and sanction any abuse of the powers conferred on the High Judicial Council.

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 a prompt, effective and independent investigation into such allegations. Georgia was also asked to promote a culture of political pluralism by ensuring a safe and secure work environment for media professionals.

Concerning 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 called on Ireland to take action to ensure that all Human rights violations in these facilities are fully eliminated. It also called for the establishment of a transitional justice mechanism to combat impunity and ensure the right to the truth for all victims.

Regarding reports of an increase in hate crimes and discriminatory incidents, particularly in relation to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Committee recommended Ireland continue its efforts to combat hate speech and incitement to discrimination or violence based on race, ethnicity, religion or reinforce sexual orientation. It also called for improved data collection and effective measures to prevent and sanction hate speech.

With regard to the lack of prosecutions and convictions for acts of discrimination, the Committee expressed concern about the barriers to access justice for those wishing to lodge discrimination complaints. It recommended that Luxembourg strengthen the resources of the Center for Equal Treatment and empower the independent body to take legal action on behalf of victims of discrimination.

Regarding the administrative detention of children and the strict documentation requirements for family reunification, the Committee called on Luxembourg to amend its legislation to prohibit the detention of children of immigrants and to apply a more flexible approach to family reunification applications for beneficiaries ensure international protection while ensuring that decisions are taken without undue delay.

As violence against women remains a widespread phenomenon in the country, the Committee called on Uruguay to take action to provide the necessary financial, technical and human resources for the prevention, protection, punishment and redress of violence against women to provide. It also called on the State party to ensure prompt and thorough investigations into all acts of violence against women and girls.

In view of the increasing number of people deprived of their liberty, especially 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 will be prosecuted and duly punished. It also called on the State party to effectively address prison overcrowding and reduce pre-trial detention.

The above results, officially dubbed the “Concluding Observations,” are now available online at the session website.