From 13 to 15 July, the second report of the Macao SAR Government on the implementation of the relevant provisions of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights was considered by the United Nations Human Rights Committee. The Delegation of the Macao SAR Government briefed the Committee on the implementation and responded to the questions raised by it.
The Committee issued its Concluding Observations on the report on the Macao SAR’s implementation of the relevant provisions of the Covenant today (27 July), expressing its appreciation for the constructive dialogue with the Delegation of the Macao SAR Government, thanking the Macao SAR Government for its written and oral replies, as well as the supplementary information provided to the Committee.
The Committee welcomes the legislative and policy measures adopted by the Macao SAR Government in relevant areas, including the formulation of the Law on Preventing and Combating Domestic Violence and the Law on Minimum Wage for Employees, as well as the amendments to the Criminal Code and the Labour Relations Law to make child pornography an independent offence and expand the scope of crimes related to child prostitution, and increase the number of days for maternity leave and establish paternity leave, etc.
At the same time, the Committee expresses its views and recommendations in its Concluding Observations on issues such as the interpretation of the Macao Basic Law, the crime of insulting national symbols and representations, universal suffrage, judicial independence, combating trafficking in persons, protection of privacy, freedom of speech, peaceful assembly and freedom of association. The Macao SAR Government cannot agree on some of the contents and expresses its opposition. The Macao SAR Government believes that, as a human rights treaty body, it will be appropriate for the Committee to uphold the objective of having a constructive dialogue with the party under consideration, avoid “politicising” the consideration and refrain from making biased and inaccurate conclusions on the basis of unsubstantiated reports or information sources.
Pursuant to Article 143 of the Macao Basic Law, the power of interpretation of the Basic Law shall be vested in the Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress. As a national law adopted by the National People’s Congress, it is natural and justified for the Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress to interpret the Macao Basic Law. The exercise of the power of interpretation by the Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress will not impair the judicial independence of the Macao SAR. In 2011, the Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress interpreted Annexes I and II of the Macao Basic Law, expressly clarifying the necessary procedures for the revision of the methods for electing the Chief Executive and for forming the Legislative Assembly of the Macao Special Administrative Region. The so-called “concerns” raised by the Committee was due to the lack of understanding of the interpretation system of the Macao Basic Law.
The Law on the National Flag, Law on the National Emblem and Law on the National Anthem are all national laws listed in Annex III to the Basic Law. The Macao SAR adopted Law 5/1999 on the Use and Protection of the National Flag, National Emblem and National Anthem to prescribe the “crime of insulting national symbols and representations”. As a local administrative region directly under the Central People’s Government of China, the Macao SAR strictly protects national symbols and representations in accordance with the provisions of the Macao Basic Law. It is an obligation that should and must be complied with and should not be reproached. It is obviously unreasonable for the Committee to ask the Macao SAR to consider “decriminalising” acts of insulting the national flag, emblem and anthem.
Since the establishment of the Macao SAR, the development of democracy has been promoted in accordance with law. The democratic factors of the methods for electing the Chief Executive and for forming the Legislative Assembly have been continuously enriched and the electoral system has been increasingly improved. The future political development of the Macao SAR will be steadily promoted in accordance with the Macao Basic Law and the relevant interpretations and decisions of the Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress, proceeding from the actual situation of the Macao SAR itself, on the basis of obtaining a broad social consensus. When the Central People’s Government presented a note to the depositary of the Covenant concerning the continuous application of the Covenant to the Macao SAR in December 1999, it had made a reservation to its Article 25(b), relating to the issue of universal suffrage. The Committee’s request for the Macao SAR to comply with the relevant legal obligations, which it is not legally bound with and does not have to assume, is not in line with the relevant principles of international law.
The Macao SAR Government attaches great importance to the Concluding Observations of the Committee. In respect of some of the constructive recommendations put forward, the Macao SAR Government will duly consider and follow up appropriately in the future. The Macao SAR Government will, as always, continue to take various measures to protect human rights, strive to implement the relevant provisions of the Covenant in accordance with the Macao Basic Law and carry out the spirit advocated by the Covenant.