November 29, 2002



The ICFTU (International Confederation of Free Trade Unions) is deeply concerned that the legislative proposal contained in the recent Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR) Government consultation document entitled "Proposal to implement Article 23 of the Basic Law", will lead to the erosion of human rights and rule of law in Hong Kong. In particular, freedom of association, freedom of expression, freedom of press and freedom of information will be threatened if the proposal becomes law. The ambiguous definition of the key proposal on treason, secession, sedition, subversion, "affiliation" with proscribed mainland organizations, and "serious illegal acts" will allow the Government to use the law as a weapon to curtail people' rights.

The proposal would give the Secretary of Security the power to ban any Hong Kong organization "affiliated" to a mainland organization proscribed by PRC as a threat to National Security. This would enable mainland law to be effective in Hong Kong. This would grant arbitrary and excessive power that would seriously jeopardize the rights of workers in China and Hong Kong to freely associate, especially if seen in the context of PRC denial of the rights of Chinese workers to create and run their own independent and free trade unions.

Another serious danger is that the proposal would expand police power to enter any premises to conduct a search and seize materials for purpose of investigation without any warrants from the court. This would grant too much discretionary power to the police and may lead to abuse of police power in the intimidation of organizations.

The ICFTU strongly urges the HKSAR Government to abide by its obligation under both UN Covenants, on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights and on Civil and Political Rights, as well as to review existing law to make it in line with the covenant instead of creating new offences to limit the freedom of the people of Hong Kong in the name of National Security.

The ICFTU calls on its affiliates and the Global Union Federations to express concerns on the proposed legislation to the HKSAR Government and urge their respective Governments to take up the matter with the HKSAR Government and the PRC Government. The ICFTU fully supports its Hong Kong affiliates in their struggle, together with other organizations, against the curtailment of human rights in Hong Kong.