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TITLE:  MACAU HUMAN RIGHTS PRACTICES, 1993                             
DATE:  JANUARY 31, 1994


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.


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 

     f.  Arbitrary Interference with Privacy, Family, Home, or 

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 

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 

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 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.


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 

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 

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 

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.

[end of document]


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