26 February 1998
Democratic Party Condemns Bill of Rights Amendments
The Democratic Party and Chairman Martin Lee today condemned the appointed Provisional Legislative Council's narrowing of protections for individuals in Hong Kong's Bill of Rights and said the Tung government's changes violated international standards of human rights. Hong Kong's Bill of Rights -- passed in 1991, in the wake of Tiananmen Square -- puts into domestic law the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), under which over 80 countries worldwide agree to a minimum standard of behaviour towards their citizens.
Last June, Democratic Party legislator Lau Chin-sek and Hong Kong's then elected legislature extended the Bill of Rights protections to cover disputes between individuals, a step which was long overdue, consistent with the ICCPR, and signed into law by then British Governor Chris Patten. The move yesterday by China's appointed legislators to cut down the Bill of Rights' protections for individuals is in contravention of the International Covenant and even China's constitution for Hong Kong, the Basic Law, which states the ICCPR shall continue to apply to Hong Kong. The Hong Kong Human Rights Monitor and other groups have threatened to lodge complaints with the United Nation's Human Rights Committee when the government carried out these Bill of Rights Amendments.
Martin Lee commented:
"This is a clear regression for human rights. We believe it is essential Hong Kong remain part of the community of modern nations that has accepted that all citizens have inherent rights that a government cannot take away or abridge. It is important to remember that what the Bill of Rights only establishes a baseline -- the minimum level of human rights that over 80 countries have agreed is absolutely fundamental. The world should note that China and the Tung government have just moved that baseline."

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