Foreign domestic workers in Hong Kong. Photo: Asia Times

Twelve countries have used a United Nations’ review of human rights in China to express concern over deteriorating rights in Hong Kong, including those of migrant workers.

It was the first time any country had addressed concerns over Hong Kong at the UN Universal Periodic Review (UPR) hearing on China, held this year on November 6, sunwebhk.com.hk reported.

At the hearing in Geneva this year, seven countries made recommendations, including the Philippines and Indonesia, which both expressed alarm over the treatment and inadequate protection of domestic workers in Hong Kong.

The Philippines suggested an enhancement of the monitoring of the standard employment contract for migrant domestic workers in the city. Indonesia called on China to consider ratifying the International Covenant on the Protection of Migrant Workers Rights.

Annie Li of the Justice Centre Hong Kong said the stance taken by the two biggest sources of migrant workers in Hong Kong was significant, as it showed Hong Kong had to strengthen the protection of migrant worker rights.

Five countries – Australia, Canada, France, Croatia and Ireland – submitted recommendations on Hong Kong, ranging from freedom of speech and assembly, universal suffrage and LGBT rights.

Simon Henderson, a spokesperson for the Hong Kong UPR Coalition and a senior policy adviser at the Justice Centre, said a declining human rights environment has clearly harmed Hong Kong’s international reputation, despite persistent denials by senior government officials.

Chief Secretary Matthew Cheung, who was in Geneva as part of the China delegation, had earlier deflected concerns raised by other countries, which he said was due a to misconception and a lack of understanding of the city’s real situation.

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