Report of Hong Kong Civil Society on the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (2023)
The Hong Kong Scots CIC, along with over ten former Hong Kong popularly elected councillors, submitted a shadow report to the United Nations (UN) Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights regarding the severe encroachment of the right to education and cultural life under the National Security Law of Hong Kong imposed by Beijing.
1️⃣Eroding academic freedoms in higher education institutions
➡️Hong Kong Government intimidates students and staff as chilling effect under National Security Law:
➡️The Police Force investigated an article analysing symbols and slogans in the Hong Kong Protest 2019 as a National Security Crime; the article was forced to suspend due to the investigation, professor of the article needed to leave Hong Kong;
➡️All boards of directors in Universities were appointed by Cheif Executive; only a few seats were contested by the universities themselves;
➡️Dismissing or terminating the employment of professors, scholars and staff who once opposed the Government for political reasons;
🗣️Hong Kong Authorities should respect the freedom of academics. Stop hampering academic freedom by exerting pressure on educational institutions and staff and stop expressing the desire to remove dissidents from their positions in educational institutions. The state should intervene to resume the positions of those unreasonably dismissed staff and stop intimidating students and staff in educational institutions.
2️⃣Arbitrary restriction on the right to education of adolescents
Classes in prison did not meet the education proposes. The teachers only played drama films in the classes. The failure to monitor the teaching quality in prisons strips the rights to education of underaged inmates. We recommend that the Hong Kong authorities enhance the monitoring of the quality of education in prisons to ensure that underaged inmates acquire adequate education.
🏫In secondary education
Underaged pro-democracy protestors have been suspended from schools and were unable to find schools to continue their studies thereafter. While the student was not convicted of any wrongdoing and no decision of expulsion or suspension was made at the time being, the suspension was deemed an illegitimate punishment to restrict his right to education. While the student only received verbal instruction to stay outside of the classroom, the arbitrary and infinite suspension and failure to contact the student when he was absent were serious negligence of the school for its incompliance to the Education Ordinance
📜 the government failed to ensure that schools should make secondary education “generally available and accessible to all by every appropriate means” as in ICESCR Article 13 2(b). We recommend the government to strictly monitor the schools on the compliance to the Education Ordinance in upholding students’ right to education.
3️⃣Elements of National Security in Education
➡️All teachers are required to pass the Basic Law and National Security Law Test (BLNST) since the NSL was enacted. The test is compulsory and instils political values in teachers, while it is not relevant to teaching objectives for most of the subjects;
➡️Surveys suggested that the turnover rate of teachers is between 7.5% and 8.4% in the year 2021/22, which is about 70% higher than the previous year;
📖This contradicts the ICESCR Article 13 (1) which “education shall be directed to the full development of the human personality and the sense of its dignity, and shall strengthen the respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms. They further agree that education shall enable all persons to participate effectively in a free society…”
1️⃣Censorship on creative industries and activities
In 2022, the Hong Kong court judged a series of children’s books about the ideas of human rights as seditious material. The authors were sentenced to imprisonment for the publication of seditious materials.
🏛️Artworks in the museum
An artwork referencing the Tiananmen Square Massacre was removed from the museum caused of its political elements;
The screening of a short film produced by a university student was cancelled caused of showing a sketch of the Yellow Umbrella Movement (2014); the screening was approved before the National Security Law enacted; the censorship was growing after 2020;
🛡️We observed that state-sponsored media are becoming more influential in intervening in cultural activities. The administration in Hong Kong fails to protect and promote the diversity of cultural expressions, while the political pressure on censoring expressions from the authority in Mainland China is playing a growing role in Hong Kong.
1️⃣Inconsistent and disproportionate restrictions over the pandemic
📢The freedom of assembly
The government declared restrictions on gatherings from April 2020 through subsidiary regulation of the Prevention and Control of Disease Ordinance. Such restrictions largely remained in the first week of 2023. The gatherings, usually during the mentioned period, of over four people in public areas for the same purposes are prohibited. Obviously, the social distancing measures prevent public assemblies against the government or penalising people who are exercising their right to peaceful assembly to raise concerns on the rights in relation to the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR). It is further contrasted by the public assemblies celebrating the legislation of NSL and the Hong Kong handover anniversary held by regime-allied groups that remained overwhelmingly unobstructed;
🧑🤝🧑Social Distancing measure
However, no social distancing measures have been mandated in public transport, which are highly risky places to transmit the disease. The bus operators even reduced the frequency of buses during the epidemic, and the vehicles were even more crowded than before. On the contrary, restrictions on the number of passengers were imposed in many other countries to prevent disease transmission.
💉Rather than scientific grounds and public health, the implementation of social distancing measures was excessively based on political reasons
Read the full report on the UN website at http://bit.ly/HKScotstoUN73.
After we submitted our report, our organisation discovered that 15 Beijing-backed groups submitted their shadow report to the UN. Submissions made by these women’s groups, youth groups, and a parent-teacher association of a primary school are nothing but puppets of former Hong Kong officials, pro-Beijing businessmen and politicians. All this propaganda praises the draconian National Security Law of Hong Kong, aiming to legitimise the encroachment of economic, social and cultural rights to which Hongkongers entitled under British rule.
The Hong Kong Scots CIC 連同 10 多位香港前民意代表，早前向聯合國經濟、社會及文化權利委員會提交影子報告，提及香港在北京實施 #港區國安法 下，港人之教育權利及參與文化生活權受到嚴重侵蝕。報告摘要如下：
涉及 #天安門大屠殺 的作因其政治元素而被從博物館中移除；
大學生製作的短片因放映涉及 #雨傘運動 之橋段而被迫取消放映；該片在港區國安法實施前，一直能如常於不同地方獲得放映權，惟立法後被進一步審查；
* 除了本團體提交報告，十多個親北京組織同時向聯合國提交報告。有報道發現，其中一份由地區組織「明基金會」提交的意見書中，檔案追蹤修訂功能（track changes）顯示兩處經「CMAB」修改，與政制及內地事務局英文縮寫相同。特區政府早前回應同一委員會的中文回覆及附錄，同樣由「CMAB」開啟新檔或修改。《明報》相關報道：shorturl.at/bilD0