Submission to The UN Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (Jan 2023)

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United Nations

In January 2023, Hong Kong Labour Rights Monitor made a submission to the ESCR for its review of Hong Kong. Our report points out that the Hong Kong National Security Law (NSL) poses a serious threat to the ESCR in Hong Kong. The report also highlights that the Hong Kong authorities violated the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights in handling the COVID-19 pandemic.

The report underscores that the Hong Kong authorities violate individual rights to work and discriminate against individuals based on their political opinions. Examples include requiring civil servants to pledge allegiance to the Hong Kong government, disciplining teachers for their involvement in the 2019 Anti-Extradition Law Protests, and barring any person convicted of a national security offence from registering as a social worker for life.

Furthermore, at least 11 trade unionists have been arrested, prosecuted, convicted or sentenced since the NSL was implemented. The authorities also weaponised the Trade Unions Ordinance to suppress trade unions’ operations, including revoking the registration of The General Union of Hong Kong Speech Therapists. Many trade unions decided to disband or cease operations due to this chilling effect.

The report also condemns the authorities for failing to implement laws for standard working hours, collective bargaining, unemployment assistance, and universal retirement protection. These failures exacerbate Hong Kong’s wealth disparities.

The report includes 18 recommendations in five areas, including urging the authorities to repeal the NSL and take all necessary steps to ensure that workers’ rights to work are fully protected under the covenant.

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