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TITLE: MACAU HUMAN RIGHTS PRACTICES, 1994 AUTHOR: U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE DATE: FEBRUARY 1995 MACAU Macau, a tiny enclave on the south China coast 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 between the Portuguese Government and Macau's Legislative Assembly. The 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 a judiciary and jury trials. The police force is under the control of the civilian authorities. Under the 1987 Sino-Portuguese Joint Declaration, Macau will become a Special Administrative Region (SAR) of China on December 20, 1999, and operate under the 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. 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 approximately 400,000 people, Macau has a per capita gross domestic product of approximately $14,100. Although Macau citizens derive a wide range of rights and freedoms from Macau's status as a Portuguese territory, they have limited ability to change their government. The Governor is appointed by the Portuguese President, only a third of the legislators are directly elected, and the territory's future path has been set by Lisbon and Beijing. China, through the Basic Law, has agreed to continue the application of international covenants on civil and political rights and on economic, social, and cultural rights after 1999. The involuntary transfer by Macau police to Chinese authorities of an Australian citizen of Chinese ancestry drew international criticism in 1994. In addition, human rights advocates and journalists believe that the 1993 reorganization of Macau's judiciary has resulted in a significant erosion of judicial independence and contributed to journalistic self-censorship which has increased as the day of reversion approaches. RESPECT FOR HUMAN RIGHTS Section 1 Respect for the Integrity of the Person, Including Freedom from: a. Political and Other Extrajudicial Killing There were no reports of political or other extrajudicial killing. b. Disappearance There were no reports of disappearances. c. Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman, or Degrading Treatment or Punishment Such abuses are prohibited by law, and this prohibition is respected. d. Arbitrary Arrest, Detention, or Exile Legal prohibitions against arbitrary arrest exist. 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. Police must present persons remanded in custody to an examining judge within 48 hours of detention. The accused's counsel may examine the evidence. If the judge is not convinced that the evidence is adequate he may dismiss the accused. Macau police on a number of occasions reportedly have detained residents and visitors for alleged commercial and criminal violations in China and handed over these persons to Chinese authorities for incarceration in China, despite the absence of a Sino-Portuguese extradition treaty. This practice recently drew international attention when James Peng, an overseas Chinese businessman traveling on an Australian passport, was removed from his room in a Macau hotel and transported to China for detention for an indefinite period. According to his lawyer, Peng's requests for legal representation and contact with the Australian Consulate were denied. At year's end, he remained in jail after waiting more than 12 months for charges to be filed against him. Despite the fact that a trial was held in November, announcement of the verdict has been postponed pending review of the proceedings by authorities in Beijing. The Chinese Government notified Peng recently of its decision to bring new charges against him related to allegations of nonpayment of his parents' rent in Shenzhen (China). Another extradition issue concerns the recent extradition to China of two prisoners accused of crimes that in China are punishable by the death penalty. In this case, the Macau Supreme Court authorized the extradition, despite Article 33 of the Portuguese Constitution which forbids the extradition of persons to countries which practice the death penalty. This case has been appealed to the European Human Rights Commission in Strasbourg and to the Constitutional Court in Lisbon. A decision is expected in early 1995. Macau authorities have not approved any extraditions pending this decision. Exile is not practiced. e. Denial of Fair Public Trial Macau law provides for a fair trial. Journalists and human rights activists claim that the judicial branch reorganization implemented in 1993 has eroded the independence of the judiciary. Oversight bodies established to recommend judicial appointments and reappointments are comprised of a majority of nonmagisterial members who have strong ties to the executive branch and to China. Human rights advocates and journalists believe that this increased executive influence over the judiciary has prejudiced court decisions, particularly the prosecution of journalists for charges of defamation and abuse of press freedom. In one current case involving freedom of the press, the judge who will determine the outcome of the case against the journalist will have his reappointment decided by an oversight panel whose membership includes the same person who originally brought the charges against the journalist. Juries determine questions of fact in criminal cases. At present, Macau's courts are semi-autonomous from the Portuguese judicial system. Macau's Supreme Court was established in April 1992. In cases involving "basic rights of the citizen," defendants still can appeal to Portugal's Constitutional Court, which may overturn all lower court rulings. After reversion, when the Macau judicial system becomes completely autonomous, the power of final adjudication in the Macau SAR will be vested in Macau's court of final appeal. 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 enterprises, and the freedom to marry and raise a family. There is no indication of abuses of these rights by the Government. Section 2 Respect for Civil Liberties, Including: a. Freedom of Speech and Press Journalists and human rights activists believe the practice of both academic and media self-censorship is increasing in Macau as reversion approaches. The Government owns a majority share of the radio and television service. Most of Macau's newspapers appear to be pro-China publications which critics charge do not give equal coverage to liberal and prodemocracy voices. Journalists assert that 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. In 1994 seventeen journalists issued a plea for Portuguese President Mario Soares to investigate violations of press freedom in Macau. The journalists accused the Macau government radio station of suppressing broadcasting of the journalists' accusations, including complaints that the 1992 revision of the judicial system "fails to safeguard fundamental rights" set out in the Sino-Portuguese Joint Declaration. Since the beginning of 1994, the Government has markedly increased its prosecution of journalists on charges of abuse of press freedom. In the previous 3 years, three complaints of abuse of press freedom were prosecuted. Since January the Government brought eight cases against journalists for criticizing the Government or persons appointed by the Government to high-level positions. Macau government executive branch appointees are complainants in these. Reporters and human rights advocates believe that the executive branch influenced judicial handling of these cases through the recently established judicial council of Macau, largely comprised of pro-Government and pro-China persons who make recommendations on the appointment and reappointment of judges. As noted above (Section 1.e.), reporters and human rights advocates have expressed concern that the person who filed the complaint in a current case against a reporter also sits on the panel which will recommend tenure for the judge deciding the case. There are signs that constraints on academic freedom of speech are beginning to emerge. The participant list for an academic conference on public administration held in Macau in 1994 was submitted in advance to the New China News Agency (NCNA) office in Macau for approval. Some academics acknowledge that they avoid research on controversial topics which might entail criticism of China. b. Freedom of Peaceful Assembly and Association The Government respects legal guarantees of these freedoms. Although it restricts demonstrations to a limited number of "approved locations" with sufficient space to accommodate the crowds and continues to ban any protests within 30 meters of government buildings, the list of approved sites includes the square in front of city hall and other central city locations. c. Freedom of Religion Members of all religions practice their faiths 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. With the approach of Macau's and Hong Kong's reversion to China, Vietnamese boat people prefer to travel further north to Japan and Korea. Only three or four boat people remain in Macau. Section 3 Respect for Political Rights: The Right of Citizens to Change Their Government Citizens have a limited ability to change their government. In a by-election in the summer of 1992, six members were added to the Legislative Assembly (two appointed, two elected, two indirectly elected through limited membership organizations recognized by the Government). 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. By tradition, the Government also consults informally on a regular basis with local business and cultural leaders. Some independent political candidates charge that the Macau Government unfairly assists progovernment candidates in elections to the Legislative Assembly. Government funds allocated to neighborhood associations are used to pay for free meals and gifts to win voter support for progovernment candidates. Similar treatment is not extended to candidates who are critical of the Government or China. Although women traditionally have played a minor role in local political life, they increasingly are being found in senior positions throughout the administration. The Legislative Assembly has three female members including the President of the Assembly, which is the second most senior position. The Under Secretary for Health and Social Affairs is a woman, and other high-level positions in administrative ministries, including education and statistics, are filled by women. Section 4 Governmental Attitude Regarding International and Nongovernmental Investigation of Alleged Violations of Human Rights Macau human rights organizations in 1994 claimed that the Government attempted to punish a public school teacher for her involvement in Amnesty International activities in Macau. Human rights advocates both in Macau and Lisbon strongly protested a government decision to discontinue her contract. Subsequently, Macau government officials notified the teacher that she could continue her employment with the Government. 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 in the private sector do not receive equal pay for equal work. 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 the Government provides some funds for children's welfare and protection services, most such services are provided by nongovernmental entities such as churches and community organizations. 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 The law guarantees freedom from discrimination. Although 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, the official use of Chinese in the civil service is growing. There is significant public pressure for the Government to speed up the process of making the civil service more representative of the population; however, the pace of localization has been very slow. In January 1993, 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 experience discrimination in employment, education, and the provision of state services is not known. The Government gives little attention to 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. The Government has not mandated accessibility for the disabled 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. Mainland Chinese interests heavily influence local trade union activities, including the selection of union leadership, and 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 Chinese control. Although the Portuguese Constitution guarantees workers the right to strike, labor leaders in Macau complain that there is no effective protection from retribution should they exercise this right. 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. 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 labor from China. Unions traditionally have not attempted to engage in collective bargaining. Portuguese laws protecting collective bargaining apply to Macau and the Government does not impede or discourage it. No rules apply to the setting of wages and no minimum wage exists for local or foreign workers. However, a significant amount of the total work force (approximately 16 percent) is composed of laborers from China and other countries who fill both blue- and white-collar positions. These workers often work for less than half the wages paid to a Macau resident performing the same job, live in controlled dormitories, work 10 to 12 hours a day, and owe large sums of money to the labor importing company for the purchase of their job. The high percentage of imported labor erodes the bargaining power of local residents to improve working conditions and increase wages. The total number of imported laborers is 28,000, out of a total employed work force of approximately 171,000. There are no government mechanisms to prevent voluntary negotiations. The law prohibits antiunion discrimination and there were no complaints of it in 1994. There are no export processing zones; all of Macau is a free port. c. Prohibition of Forced or Compulsory Labor Compulsory labor is illegal and does not exist. d. Minimum Age for Employment of Children The law forbids minors under the age of 15 to work--except in businesses operated by their families. The Macau Labor Department which enforces this law 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. Throughout 1993 and up to October 1994, the Macau courts received no complaints of child labor violations. School attendance in Macau is not compulsory. e. Acceptable Conditions of Work In the absence of any statutory minimum wage or publicly administered social security programs, 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 and other countries under contract, while at the same time imposing heavy fines on employers harboring illegal immigrants. Labor legislation provides for a 48-hour workweek, an 8-hour workday, overtime, annual leave, medical and maternity care, and employee compensation insurance. Although Article 17 of Macau's labor law provides a 24-hour rest period for every 7 days of work, worker representatives report that workers frequently agree to work overtime to compensate for low wages. 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. According to government statistics for 1993, 32.7 percent of the work force worked 7 days per week. The Department of Labor enforces laws on occupational safety and health. According to the Government, 625 infractions of occupational safety and health laws had occurred up to October. This number represents approximately a 50 percent decrease from the previous year. Failure to correct infractions leads to government prosecution. Although a recent law states that employers should provide safe working conditions, no guarantee exists to protect employees' right to continued employment if they refuse to work under dangerous conditions. (###)
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