1 At its 1476th and 1477th meetings, held on 4 April 1997, the Human Rights
Committee considered the third periodic report of Portugal relating to Macau
(CCPR/C/70/Add.9) and adopted 1/ the following observations:
2 The Committee welcomes the
presence of a highnlevel delegation, which included several officials
of the Macau government. It expresses its appreciation to the representatives
of the State party for the high quality of the report, abundance of additional
information and detailed and frank answers provided in response to the
oral and written questions posed and comments made by the Committee during
its consideration of the report. The Committee notes with satisfaction
that such information enabled it to engage in a highly constructive dialogue
with the State party.
B. Factors relating to
reporting obligations under the Covenant
3 The Committee notes that
given the late extension of the Covenant to Macau, the Sino-Portuguese
Joint Declaration and Exchange of Memoranda of 13 April 1987 does not
refer to it and merely states that the laws currently in force in Macau
will remain basically unchanged and that all rights and freedoms of the
inhabitants and other persons in Macau, including the rights of the person,
freedoms of speech, of the press, of assembly, of association, of travel
and movement, to strike, of choice of occupation, to undertake academic
research, of religion and belief and of communication and the right to
own property will be ensured by law in the Macau Special Administrative
Region. This was followed by a Memorandum of Understanding between the
People's Republic of China and the Government of Portugal, signed by their
respective Ambassadors, for extension of the Covenant to Macau with reservations,
and thereafter by resolution 41/92 of the Assembly of the Portuguese Republic
of 31 December 1992, stipulating that the provisions of the Covenant were
extended to Macau with certain reservations, particularly in regard to
article 12, paragraphs 4 and 13. The Committee notes that article 40 of
the Basic Law of the Macau Special Administrative Region of the People's
Republic of China, adopted by the People's Congress on 31 March 1993,
states that the provisions of the Covenant shall continue in force after
19 December 1999 and shall be implemented through the laws of the Macau
Special Administrative Region.
4 Accordingly, the Sino-Portuguese
Joint Declaration, read in conjunction with the Memorandum of Understanding
and the Basic Law, appears to provide a sound legal basis for the continued
protection in Macau after 19 December 1999 of the rights specified in
the Covenant. The Committee, moreover, wishes to reiterate its long-standing
position that human rights treaties devolve with territory, and that States
continue to be bound by the obligations under the Covenant entered into
by the predecessor State. Once the people living in a territory find themselves
under the protection of the International Covenant on Civil and Political
Rights, such protection cannot be denied to them merely on account of
the dismemberment of that territory or its coming within the jurisdiction
of another State or of more than one State. 2/ Consequently, the
reporting requirements under article 40 of the International Covenant
on Civil and Political Rights will continue to apply and the Human Rights
Committee expects to receive and review reports in relation to Macau after
19 December 1999.
C. Positive aspects
5 The Committee welcomes the
fact that the death penalty has been abolished in Macau, including for
military crimes. In this context, it notes with appreciation that the
domestic law as interpreted by the Superior Court of Justice prohibits
extradition to a country where the person concerned may be sentenced to
6 The Committee notes with
appreciation that strict safeguards exist in the Organic Statute of Macau
with regard to the declaration of a state of siege or state of emergency
and that non-derogable rights under article 4, paragraph 2, of the Covenant
may under no circumstances be derogated from.
7 It is also noted with appreciation
that under article 30 of the Portuguese Constitution persons deprived
of their liberty are entitled to continue to enjoy their fundamental rights,
save for those limitations that are inherent in their imprisonment.
8 The Committee welcomes the
efforts being made by the authorities to disseminate information on human
rights to members of the judiciary, civil servants, teachers and the public
9 The Committee notes with
appreciation that under article 22 of the Portuguese Constitution, read
in conjunction with article 2 of the Organic Statute of Macau, State agencies
and public bodies are held liable for actions or omissions resulting in
violations of human rights.
10 The Committee welcomes
the setting up of new institutions and offices to protect human rights,
such as the Public Information and Assistance Centre and the High Commission
against Corruption and Administrative Illegality.
D. Principal subjects of
11 The Committee notes with
concern that, while the majority of the population is Chinese-speaking,
official charge forms and charge sheets, as well as court documents and
decisions, are in Portuguese only, although efforts are being made to
make Chinese versions available to the people.
12 The Committee is concerned
that, despite guarantees of equality in the Constitution and in labour
legislation, de facto inequalities continue in regard to the situation
of women and their remuneration. The persistence of certain traditional
attitudes and practices contributes to this inequality and discrimination
in the workplace.
13 The Committee is particularly
concerned at reports on the extent of trafficking in women in Macau and
on the large numbers of women from different countries who are being brought
into Macau for the purpose of prostitution. The Committee is extremely
concerned at the inaction by the authorities in preventing and penalizing
exploitation of these women and that, in particular, immigration and police
officials are not taking effective measures to protect these women and
to impose sanctions on those who are exploiting women through prostitution
in violation of article 8 of the Covenant.
14 The Committee expresses
concern at the low percentage of locally born residents holding senior
positions within the public administration, thus raising the issue of
implementation of article 25 of the Covenant.
15 The Committee is concerned
that no firm arrangements have been made between the Governments of China
and Portugal with regard to the nationality of the residents of Macau
after 19 December 1999.
16 The Committee regrets that,
despite the efforts that are being made by the authorities to disseminate
information in regard to the rights recognized in the Covenant, the public
in general, and non-governmental organizations in particular, were not
adequately informed of the Human Rights Committee's consideration of the
report. The Committee is also concerned that nonngovernmental organizations
in Macau are not being encouraged to participate in programmes for the
promotion and protection of human rights and that their cooperation is
not sought in regard to the implementation of human rights.
E. Suggestions and recommendations
17 The Committee recommends
that efforts be accelerated to introduce, as soon as possible, the use
of the Chinese language in the courts at all levels and particularly in
regard to court documents and decisions.
18 The Committee recommends
that determined efforts be made to ensure a substantial rise in the percentage
of locally born residents holding senior posts within the public administration
and the judiciary.
19 The Committee further recommends
that the Government should initiate or strengthen programmes aimed at
providing assistance to women in difficult circumstances, particularly
those coming from other countries who are brought into Macau for the purpose
of prostitution. Strong measures should be taken to prevent this form
of trafficking and to impose sanctions on those who exploit women in this
way. Protection should be extended to women who are the victims of this
kind of trafficking so that they may have a place of refuge and an opportunity
to stay in order to give evidence against the person responsible in criminal
or civil proceedings.
20 The Committee recommends
that the provisions of article 4 of the Portuguese Assembly=s resolution
No. 41/92, whereby articles 12, paragraph 4, and 13 of the Covenant are
not applicable to Macau as far as entry and departure of persons and the
expulsion of foreigners from the Territory are concerned, be repealed
as soon as possible.
21 The Committee recommends
that human rights education be extended to members of the police and security
forces, the legal profession and other persons involved in the administration
of justice, with a view to making it a part of their regular training.
22 The Committee suggests
that further efforts be undertaken to disseminate information in regard
to the rights recognized in the Covenant and the activities carried out
by the Committee. In particular, it recommends that the present Concluding
Observations be widely disseminated among the public.
1/ At its 1584th meeting
(fiftyninth session), held on 10 April 1997.
2/ See documents CCPR/C/SR.1178/Add.1,
SR.12001202 and SR.1453.