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Law 'protects' human rights

Law   'protects'   human   rights

HONGKONG   STANDARD         HOME     Wednesday,   June   15,   1988

By   Tonny   Chan

ONE   of   the   visiting   mainland   Basic   Law   drafters   yesterday   gave   assurance   that   human   rights   would   be   safeguarded   in   the   law.

His   remarks   followed   anxiety   by   activists   on   human   rights   conditions   in   China.

Drafter   Xu   Chongde,   who   is   also   a   legal   expert   in   China,   said   all   Basic   Law   drafters   attached   much   importance   to   the   protection   of   human   rights   when   they   drafted   the   document.

"The   constitution   of   China   is   clear   about   the   freedoms   of   the   people   and   their   rights.   The   draft   Basic   Law   also   spells   it   out   in   detail   for   Hongkong,"   Mr.   Xu   said.

"In   the   law's   draft,   provisions   of   two   international   covenants   on   human   and   political   rights   have   been   embodied   in   Chapter   3.   which   I   think   is   detailed   enough,"   Mr.   Xu   said.

Article   26   of   the   draft   states   that   Hongkong   residents   shall   have   the   freedom   of   speech,   association,   assembly,   demonstration,   and   the   freedom   to   join   trade   unions   and   to   strike.

But   a   group   of   nine   grassroot   activists   yesterday   challenged   the   adequacy   of   the   draft   in   protecting   human   rights,   citing   a   source   of   threat   could   come   from   Article   22.

The   group,   led   by   a   social   activist   Father   Franco   Mella,   met   with   Mr.   Xu   and   another   drafter   Mr.   Shao   Tianren   as   part   of   a   series   of   consultative   meetings   between   drafters   and   local   people.

The   article   says   the   Hongkong   Special   Administrative   Region   (SAR)   shall   prohibit   by   law   any   act   designed   to   undermine   national   unity   and   subvert   the   central   government   of   China.

"Some   representatives   expressed   concern   about   the   differences   in   penalty   between   Hongkong   and   China   for   the   same   offence,"   said   Mr.   Li   Kaiming,   a   Basic   Law   Consultative   Committee   member.

A   growing   concern   is   emerging   in   public   discussions   on   the   draft   that   Article   22   is   too   vague   in   terminology   as   to   what   will   constitute   a   subversion   or   undermining   national   unity.

Some   people,   including   those   in   religious   circles,   have   said   the   anxieties   were   caused   by   the   arrest   of   Hongkong   residents   in   China   for   charges   that   are   considered   minor   here.

Mr.   Li   said   representatives   at   yesterday's   meeting   voiced   fears   that   the   term   "subversion"   in   Article   22   could   be   translated   into   an   equivalent   term   for   "anti-revolution".  

Support   for   jailed   activist.

  SUPPORTERS   of   a   Hongkong   activist   who   is   serving   a   jail   sentence   in   China   for   alleged   anti-revolution   activities   yesterday   took   the   case   to   visiting   mainland   Basic   Law   drafters.

The   group   handed   in   a   letter   addressed   to   the   Deputy   Director   of   the   State   Council's   Hongkong   and   Macau   Affairs   Office,   Mr.   Lu   Ping,   calling   for   the   early   release   of   Lau   Shan-qing.

Lau,   who   was   convicted   in   Guangdong   in   1982   for   helping   organise   a   Government-banned   association,   is   serving   a   10-year   jail   sentence   in   Mei   county.

Mainland   drafters   did   not   commit   themselves   to   action   other   than   to   relay   the   group's   "opinion"   to   the   relevant   authorities.   The   group   comprised   mainly   students   and   labour   movement   activists.

One   of   Lau's   supporters,   Father   Franco   Mella,   said   before   discussing   Lau's   fate   at   the   Basic   Law   Consultative   Committee   office   that   he   hoped   drafters   could   urge   for   his   early   release.

"If   the   Chinese   authorities   can   release   Lau   in   the   near   future,   I   think   it   can   boost   Hongkong   people's   confidence   (in   the   human   rights   situation   there),"   Father   Franco   Mella   said.

"I   hope   the   drafters   can   raise   the   subject   with   the   judiciary   of   Gaungdong   province   so   that   Lau   can   be   released   soon,"   said   Fr   Mella,   adding   that   the   group   wanted   to   meet   Mr.   Lu,   who   led   the   visiting   group   of   drafters.   But   supporters   of   the   prisoner   could   only   see   mainland   drafters   Mr.   Xu   Chongde   and   Mr.   Shao   Tianren.

Mr.   Xu   told   reporters   afterwards:   "I   must   stress   that   everyone,   Hongkong   people   or   foreigners   alike,   who   have   breached   mainland   laws   must   be   subject   to   the   laws   and   the   judiciary   has   the   final   decision.

"The   conviction   and   sentence   of   Lau   is   a   particular   case   which,   I   believe,   the   judiciary   of   China   has   investigated   thoroughly.   But   we   will   still   relay   their   opinions,"   Mr.   Xu   added.

According   to   copies   of   judicial   documents   which   were   smuggled   out   of   China,   Lau   was   accused   of   distributing   banned   publications   in   China.

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