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TITLE: MACAU HUMAN RIGHTS PRACTICES, 1993 DATE: JANUARY 31, 1994 AUTHOR: U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE MACAU Macau, a tiny enclave comprised of a peninsula and two islands on the south China coast and encompassing only 6 square miles, is recognized by both China and Portugal as Chinese territory under Portuguese administration. The "Organic Statute" of 1976, which serves as Macau's Constitution, grants it considerable administrative, financial, and legislative autonomy. Legislative power is shared by the Portuguese Government and the territory's Legislative Assembly. Macau's Governor, appointed by the Portuguese President, holds expansive powers under the statute. Portuguese metropolitan law serves as the basis for the legal system, which features an independent judiciary and jury trials. The police force is firmly under the control of the civilian authorities. Macau's economy is fueled by legalized gambling, which has produced a thriving tourist industry, and by the export of textiles and other light industrial products. With a population of less than half a million people, Macau has a per capita gross domestic product of over $13,500. Under the 1987 Sino-Portuguese Joint Declaration, Macau will become a Special Administrative Region (SAR) of China on December 20, 1999, and operate under a principle of "one country, two systems," to remain unchanged for 50 years. The Macau SAR's future Constitution, called the "Basic Law," was promulgated on March 31, 1993. Citizens of Macau enjoy a wide range of rights and freedoms. The human rights provisions of the Portuguese Constitution apply in Macau, while Article 40 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights has been incorporated into the Basic Law. The principal human rights problem in Macau involves the inability of citizens to change their government or determine their political future: the Governor is appointed by the Portuguese President, only a third of legislators are directly elected, and the territory's future path has been set largely by Lisbon and Beijing. RESPECT FOR HUMAN RIGHTS Section 1 Respect for the Integrity of the Person, Including Freedom from: a. Political and Other Extrajudicial Killing Government authorities do not practice these abuses. b. Disappearance The authorities do not practice or condone secret arrests or clandestine confinements. c. Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman, or Degrading Treatment or Punishment Such abuses are prohibited by law and were not known to occur in 1993. d. Arbitrary Arrest, Detention, or Exile Legal prohibitions against arbitrary arrest exist and are honored. The examining judge, who conducts a pretrial inquiry in criminal cases, has a wide range of powers to collect evidence, order or dismiss indictments, validate and maintain the detention of suspects, and determine whether to release accused persons. Persons remanded in custody must be presented to an examining judge within 48 hours of being detained. The accused's counsel may examine the evidence. If the judge is not convinced that the evidence is adequate, he may dismiss the accused. Exile is not practiced. e. Denial of Fair Public Trial Fair trial is guaranteed and practiced. The courts are independent of the executive, and juries determine questions of fact in criminal cases. At present, Macau's courts are integrated into the Portuguese judicial system, and decisions are appealable to the superior Portuguese courts. Macau's Supreme Court, established in April, gives Macau nearly complete judicial autonomy, although in cases involving "basic rights of the citizen" defendants may appeal to Portugal's Constitutional Court, which may overturn all lower court rulings. f. Arbitrary Interference with Privacy, Family, Home, or Correspondence Laws provide for the inviolability of the home and of communication, the right of ownership of private property and of enterprises, and the freedom to marry and raise a family. There is no indication of any abuses of these rights by the Government. Section 2 Respect for Civil Liberties, Including: a. Freedom of Speech and Press Independent or critical opinions receive consistent airing on radio and television and in public forums. The Government owns a majority share of the radio and television service and ensures that all candidates receive equal time during election campaigns. However, freedom of the press is more restricted. Most of Macau's newspapers are pro-China publications that do not give equal coverage to liberal and prodemocracy forces. Self-censorship is growing among newspaper reporters, some of whom express fears that they will lose their jobs if they criticize China or government policy. The academic community is free to express its views, though some academics report that they avoid research on topics that entail criticism of China. b. Freedom of Peaceful Assembly and Association Legal guarantees of these freedoms are largely observed. However, the Government restricts demonstrations to a limited number of "approved locations" with sufficient space to accommodate the crowds and continues to ban any protests within 50 meters of government buildings. This ban effectively excludes demonstrations from the city center and relegates them to the outlying islands. c. Freedom of Religion Macau is a predominantly Buddhist society. Members of other religions exist and practice their religion freely. d. Freedom of Movement Within the Country, Foreign Travel, Emigration, and Repatriation There are no restrictions on movement within the enclave; emigration and foreign travel are unlimited. The Government reports that about 105,000 of Macau's 400,000 inhabitants have the right of abode in Portugal. The Government's official policy since 1982 has been to refuse asylum to all Vietnamese boat people arriving in Macau waters and redirect them to nearby Hong Kong territorial waters. There were no arrivals of boat people in Macau in 1993. While awaiting third-country resettlement, the 10 remaining boat people in Macau live in public housing and work in the local economy. Section 3 Respect for Political Rights: The Right of Citizens to Change Their Government Citizens have only a limited ability to change their government. In a by-election in the summer of 1992, 6 members were added to the legislative assembly (2 appointed, 2 elected, 2 indirectly elected through functional constituencies). The 23-member Legislative Assembly is composed of 8 members elected in universal, direct elections; 8 indirectly elected by local community interests; and 7 appointed by the Governor. The Consultative Council, an advisory group to the Governor composed of elected and appointed members, also provides some measure of popular representation. The Government, by tradition, also consults informally on a regular basis with local business and cultural leaders. Although women traditionally have played a minor role in local political life, they increasingly are being found in senior positions throughout the administration. A woman is the President of the Legislative Assembly, the second most senior position in Macau after the Governor, and the Under Secretary for Health and Social Affairs is a woman. Section 4 Governmental Attitude Regarding International Nongovernmental Investigation of Alleged Violations of Human Rights Local human rights organizations operate freely in Macau. The Government received an Amnesty International delegation sent to study a final draft of the Basic Law. Section 5 Discrimination Based on Race, Sex, Religion, Disability, Language, or Social Status Women Women are becoming more active and visible in business and government, and some enjoy considerable influence and responsibility in these areas. Anecdotal information indicates women do not receive equal pay for equal work, but firm statistical evidence on this issue is not available. Cases of violence against women are not common. For cases that are reported, Macau's criminal statutes prohibiting domestic violence are enforced and violators prosecuted. Police and doctors report abuses to the Social Welfare Department, which investigates them. If hospital treatment is required, a medical social worker counsels the victim and informs her about social welfare services. Until their complaints are resolved, battered women may be placed in public housing, but no facilities are reserved especially for them. Children Child abuse and exploitation are not widespread problems in Macau. While some funds for children's welfare and protection services are provided by the Government, most such services are provided by nongovernmental entities such as churches and community organizations. Moreover, the Government has not promulgated any statutes specifically to protect the rights of children, relying on the general framework of civil and political rights legislation to protect all citizens. National/Racial/Ethnic Minorities Freedom from discrimination is guaranteed by law. However, in practice Macau's governmental and legal systems place a premium on knowledge of the Portuguese language, which is spoken by less than 4 percent of the population. Thus, about 60 percent of the approximately 130 senior government officials come from Portugal. Most of the other middle and upper ranking civil servants are Macanese-Eurasians of Chinese and Portuguese descent. There is significant public pressure for the Government to speed up the process of making the civil service more representative of the population. In January the Government gave the Chinese language official status and the same legal force as Portuguese. People with Disabilities The extent to which physically disabled persons are discriminated against in employment, education, and the provision of state services is not known. There does not appear to be much governmental concern about the subject, and there is little funding for special programs aimed at helping the physically and mentally disabled gain better access to employment, education, and public facilities. Accessibility for the disabled has not been mandated legislatively or otherwise. Section 6 Worker Rights a. The Right of Association Macau labor law recognizes the right and freedom of all workers to form and join trade unions and of private sector unions to strike. The Government neither impedes the formation of trade unions nor discriminates against union members. A garbage strike was the only major strike in 1993. The police are legally prohibited from striking but occasionally engage in massive "job actions" which are strikes in all but name. Local trade union activities, including the selection of union leadership, are heavily influenced by mainland Chinese interests, which stress the importance of stability and minimum disruption of the work force. Nearly all of Macau's 7,000 private sector union members belong to a pro-China labor confederation. Many local observers claim that this organization is more interested in furthering the Chinese political agenda in Macau than in addressing classic trade union issues. A few private sector unions and two of the four public sector unions are outside of Chinese control. Macau unions may freely form federations and affiliate with international bodies. Three civil service unions are affiliated with the major non-Communist Portuguese Union Confederation, which itself has international labor ties. b. The Right to Organize and Bargain Collectively Unions tend to resemble local traditional neighborhood associations, promoting social and cultural activities rather than issues relating to the workplace. Local customs, moreover, normally favor employment without the benefit of written labor contracts--except in the case of importation of labor from China. Reflecting influence by China, unions traditionally have not attempted to engage in collective bargaining. While Portuguese laws protecting collective bargaining apply to Macau, the Government does not impede or discourage it. There are no government mechanisms to promote voluntary negotiations. The law prohibits antiunion discrimination, and there were no complaints about it in 1993. There are no export processing zones in Macau. c. Prohibition of Forced or Compulsory Labor Compulsory labor is illegal and does not exist. d. Minimum Age for Employment of Children Minors under the age of 15 are forbidden to work except in businesses operated by their families. The law is enforced by the Macau Labor Department, which refers offending employers to the judicial authorities for prosecution. The Labor Department claims that the incidence of child labor has declined radically since effective enforcement began in 1985. There were two prosecutions for child labor violations in 1992. e. Acceptable Conditions of Work In the absence of any statutory minimum wage or publicly administered social security program, some large companies have provided private welfare and security packages. Calls for labor reform, medical insurance, a social security system, and increases in employee compensation figure regularly in political campaign platforms. To offset a current labor shortage, the Government allows the importation of labor from China under contract, while at the same time imposing heavy fines on employers harboring illegal immigrants. Roughly 12,000 imported Chinese laborers are now in Macau, most of them working on construction of the new airport. The number of imported workers in other jobs totals between 2,000 and 3,000 out of an estimated work force of 195,000. Labor legislation provides for a 48-hour workweek, an 8-hour workday, overtime, annual leave, medical and maternity care, and employee compensation insurance. The Department of Labor provides assistance and legal advice to workers on request but government enforcement of labor laws is lax because of limited resources. Laws on occupational safety and health are enforced by the Department of Labor, which reported 1,171 infractions of occupational safety and health laws through mid-November, mostly in the construction sector. Failure to correct infractions leads to government prosecution.
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