Human rights in Hong Kong

Human rights protection is enshrined in the Basic Law and its Bill of Rights Ordinance (Cap.383). By virtue of the Bill of Rights Ordinance and Basic Law Article 39, the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) is put into effect in Hong Kong. Any local legislation that is inconsistent with the Basic Law can be set aside by the courts. This does not apply to national legislation that applies to Hong Kong, such as the National Security Law, even if it is inconsistent with the Bills of Rights Ordinance, ICCPR, or the Basic Law.[1][2]

2008 Summer Olympics Torch in Tsim Sha Tsui, Hong Kong. Protest of Civil Human Rights Front.
March in support of jailed Hong Kong pro-democracy leaders, 20 August 2017

Hong Kong has been traditionally perceived to enjoy a relatively high level of civil liberties, and the Hong Kong government claims that it respects the human rights of citizens, although many core issues remain.[3] There are concerns over the freedoms to the people which is restricted by the Public Order Ordinance, as well as strong domestic and international criticism of the national security law, perceived by many to have eroded certain rights.[4] The United Nations and the UN human rights experts have repeatedly warned that offences under the NSL are vague and overly broad, facilitating abusive or arbitrary implementation.[5]  The police has been occasionally accused of using heavy-handed tactics towards protestors[6] and questions are asked towards the extensive powers of the police.[7] As to the right of privacy, covert surveillance remains the major concern.[8] There is a lack of protection for homosexuals due to the absence of a sexual orientation discrimination law.[9] There are also comments regarding a lack of protection for labour rights.[10]

Human rights in Hong Kong occasionally comes under the spotlight of the international community because of its world city status. This is occasionally used as a yardstick by commentators to judge whether the People's Republic of China has kept its end of the bargain of the "One Country, Two Systems" principle granted to the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region by its current mini-constitution, the Basic Law, under the Sino-British Joint Declaration.[11]