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Title: Hong Kong Human Rights Practices, 1995 Author: U.S. Department of State Date: March 1996 HONG KONG Hong Kong, a small, densely populated British dependency, is a free society with legally protected rights. Its constitutional arrangements are defined by the Letters Patent and Royal Instructions. Executive powers are vested in a British Crown- appointed Governor who holds extensive authority. The judiciary is an independent body adhering to English common law with certain variations. Fundamental rights ultimately rest on oversight by the British Parliament. In practice, however, Hong Kong largely controls its own internal affairs. In 1995 following 17 rounds of unsuccessful talks between the United Kingdom and the People's Republic of China, the Hong Kong Government implemented legislation abolishing all appointed seats in the Hong Kong Legislative Council (LEGCO). In September all 60 LEGCO seats were open to direct or indirect balloting for the first time. An unprecedented number of independent and party-affiliated candidates entered the historic electoral contest. Overall, the elections were free and fair-- only scattered complaints regarding voter registration and ballot counting were received. China has announced its intent to dissolve the 1995 LEGCO, district boards, and municipal councils in July 1997 when Hong Kong reverts to China, noting that it did not agree to the electoral rules adopted by the Hong Kong Government in 1994 for election to these bodies. China further announced that a PRC-appointed preparatory committee will decide how to form the first post-1997 LEGCO. A well-organized police force maintains public order and is under the firm control of civilian authorities. Some members of the police committed human rights abuses (see Section 1.c.). Hong Kong is a major regional and international trade and financial center. It is the principal gateway for trade and investment with China. The territory's free market economy operates on the basis of minimal government interference and a thriving private sector. Per capita gross domestic product surpassed $21,000 in 1994 and continued to grow in 1995. Human rights activists, journalists, and concerned legislators criticized the Government for opposing major human rights initiatives, including the establishment of a human rights commission, antidiscrimination provisions in the law, and freedom of information legislation. Human rights problems continued to include some instances of excessive use of force by the police, media self-censorship, limitations on citizens' ability to change their government, and violence and discrimination against women. In June the United Kingdom and China signed an agreement on establishing Hong Kong's Court of Final Appeal after the 1997 transition, and LEGCO approved implementing legislation. 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 killings. There were at least four instances of death in police custody. The authorities determined that three were suicides; the fourth is under investigation. b. Disappearance There were no reports of politically motivated disappearances. c. Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman, or Degrading Treatment or Punishment The law forbids torture and other extreme forms of abuse and stipulates punishment for those who break the law. Disciplinary action can range from dismissal to warnings. Criminal proceedings may be undertaken independently of the disciplinary process of the police force. Allegations of excessive use of force are investigated by the Complaints Against Police Office, whose work is in turn monitored and reviewed by the Police Complaints Council, a body comprised of members of the public appointed by the Governor. The Government, however, continued to resist public calls for the creation of an independent body to investigate allegations of abuse by police. Although excessive use of force by police is not widespread, there are occasional complaints of force being used to coerce information or confessions during police interrogations. Human rights monitors in Hong Kong are concerned that this may be a growing problem and have documented victims' complaints of beatings during interrogation and, in at least one case, the use of water torture in the 1994-95 period. In 1994 government officials reported 1,554 complaints against the police, of which only 2 were substantiated by the Police Complaints Council. Human rights groups contrast the relatively large number of complaints against the police with the very small number of cases substantiated by the Government to argue the need for revamping a system where the review process appears to favor the police. Although conditions vary among prisons, prison conditions generally conform to international standards. d. Arbitrary Arrest, Detention, or Exile British legal protections and common law traditions govern the process of arrest and detention and ensure substantial and effective legal protections against arbitrary arrest or detention. Exile is not practiced. e. Denial of Fair Public Trial Hong Kong's judicial and legal systems are organized according to principles of British constitutional law and legal precedent and feature, among other things, an independent judiciary and trial by jury. The law provides for the right to a fair public trial, and this is respected in practice. According to the agreement signed by the United Kingdom and China in June, Hong Kong's Court of Final Appeal will be established formally on July 1, 1997. Incoming officials ("team designate") of the post-1997 Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (SAR) will be responsible for setting up the court and selecting judges. The agreement, thus, grants a principal role in the court's establishment and membership to the Hong Kong SAR government. f. Arbitrary Interference with Privacy, Family, Home, or Correspondence The law provides for the right of privacy, and the Government generally respects this right in practice. The Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC) is vested with powers that are normally exercised only by a judicial officer. Amendments to ordinances governing ICAC deprived it of the independent authority to issue arrest or search warrants (it must now go to the courts), but it still operates on the assumption that any excessive, unexplainable assets held by civil servants are considered ill-gotten until proven otherwise. Section 2 Respect for Civil Liberties, Including: a. Freedom of Speech and Press There is a tradition of free speech and press as practiced in Great Britain. Numerous views and opinions, including those independent or critical of the British, Hong Kong, and Chinese Governments are aired in the mass media, in public forums, and by political groups. International media organizations operate freely. Several ordinances permit restrictions of the press, but they are rarely imposed. The Hong Kong Journalists Association continued to criticize the Government for not taking swift action to do away with these ordinances before 1997, warning that the post-June 1997 government might be more prone to invoke them. After intensive press coverage of violent demonstrations by Vietnamese boat people protesting their return to Vietnam in 1994, the Government changed procedures so that such transfers take place where it is difficult for the press to view the operation. The media complained about this limitation on their ability to report. There are reliable indications that media self-censorship is a fact of life, particularly on issues considered to be sensitive to the PRC. Two local television stations decided against airing a documentary on the removal of transplant organs from executed prisoners after Chinese officials expressed strong criticism of the program and its producers. Journalists and human rights groups also criticized the release of cartoonist Larry Feign from the South China Morning Post (SCMP) staff following published cartoons lampooning PRC leaders. SCMP management explained Feign's release as part of an overall staff drawdown, but many Hong Kong journalists--including some on the SCMP staff--view the decision as politically motivated. According to poll results published in February by Hong Kong University's Social Sciences Research Center (SSRC), most journalists believe that self-censorship remains a problem. A 1994 SSRC survey found that 88 percent of respondents believed that there was self-censorship in Hong Kong's media, with 57 percent indicating that self-censorship occurred where they worked. Journalists, human rights groups, and others have criticized the PRC for taking retaliatory action against Hong Kong businessman Jimmy Lai's business interests in China. Lai's daily newspaper Apple, which began publishing in June 1995, and Next magazine, which began publishing in 1990, have been critical of China. A Hong Kong-based reporter and a photographer working for Next magazine were detained for several days in Fujian during China's missile tests near the Taiwan coast. China also refused journalists' credentials to reporters working for Apple. The fate of Ming Pao reporter Xi Yang, arrested in 1994 and sentenced to 12 years' imprisonment in China for stealing "state financial secrets," continues to have a chilling effect on his colleagues and others in Hong Kong. On September 27, there was a demonstration at the Hong Kong offices of Xinhua news agency to protest his continued imprisonment in China. The filming of demonstrators by the Hong Kong police raised criticism in the local press. Journalists report that such self- censorship is also increasing for commercial reasons, as Hong Kong-based media organizations which are expanding their ties to China seek to avoid offending the Chinese Government. Following PRC objections to a Hong Kong government proposal to "corporatize" the government-owned Radio Television Hong Kong, there have been no further efforts by the Government to do so. Media and general public access to government information is strictly controlled. The Government opposed freedom of information legislation proposed by LEGCO members and instead decided that an administrative code of practice on access to government information should be developed. Under the code, civil servants would be required to provide information held by the Government, unless there are valid reasons not to do so. A pilot scheme to test the legal, practical, and resource implications arising from the code began in March. By the end of 1996, the code will be extended to the entire Government. b. Freedom of Peaceful Assembly and Association These freedoms are practiced without significant hindrance, although the amended Societies Ordinance requires people to notify the Societies Officer of the formation of a society. The Societies Officer may recommend to the Secretary for Security prohibition of the operation or continued operation of a society if he reasonably believes that it may be prejudicial to the security of Hong Kong, or to public safety or public order. While the provision in the Ordinance allowing the Government to refuse to register an organization "incompatible with peace, welfare, or good order," or affiliated with a political organization abroad was repealed in 1992, China's National People's Congress included similar language in the Basic Law which will become effective in 1997. c. Freedom of Religion The Hong Kong Bill of Rights includes a provision prohibiting discrimination on the basis of religion. Government policy and general practice ensure freedom of religion. d. Freedom of Movement Within the Country, Foreign Travel, Emigration, and Repatriation Travel documents are obtainable freely and easily, subject to neither arbitrary nor discriminatory practices. There is freedom of movement within Hong Kong. Hong Kong has never refused to accept nor pushed off Vietnamese boat people. Refugee status was automatically accorded them prior to June 1988. However, since then asylum seekers have been screened to determine their status and held in prison-like detention centers awaiting resettlement in other countries or repatriation to Vietnam. In fiscal year 1995, 2,566 persons took advantage of resettlement incentives offered by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and the Hong Kong Government and repatriated voluntarily to Vietnam. These incentives were offered only until the end of 1995. On May 12, 1992, the Hong Kong Government reached agreement with Vietnamese authorities on mandatory repatriation (the "Orderly Return Program") of those who have been denied asylum. There were 860 people repatriated under the Orderly Return Program in 1994. Under the program, people are randomly chosen from the nonrefugee camp population and moved to a separate location several days before a flight's scheduled departure. Government security officers then escort all those being mandatorily returned on to the airplane and accompany the flight to Vietnam. Some 23,000 people remain in Hong Kong camps, of whom about 1,500 are screened-in as refugees but who, for reasons of health or criminal acts, have not been resettled. Voluntary repatriation to Vietnam declined dramatically in the spring of 1995 in the wake of both U.S. congressional and executive branch proposals that hold out the promise for resettlement of additional Vietnamese in the United States. Hong Kong authorities continue to encounter physical resistance in the camps when attempting to remove those chosen for the Orderly Return Program flights. There has been no recurrence of the level of violence seen in the April 1994 incident at Whitehead Detention Center. Violence that has occurred has taken the form of rock throwing and assaults with homemade weapons. The number of illegal Chinese immigrants has been estimated by the Hong Kong Government to be 10,000. Police sources state that the figure is much higher and the press estimates the number to be 24,000. The Government continues to deport illegal Chinese immigrants back to the PRC at the rate of approximately 150 per day. Only in those rare instances in which a person qualifies as a refugee under the terms of the International Agreement on the Status of Refugees is asylum afforded. There are currently 240 ex-China Vietnamese illegal immigrants in Hong Kong. The repatriation of these ethnic Vietnamese, who fled from China to Hong Kong, continued in 1995, generally without incident. A well-known Chinese labor organizer, Han Donfang, remains in Hong Kong. Chinese government authorities continued to refuse him entry into China as they have ever since his expulsion from China in August 1993. Section 3 Respect for Political Rights: The Right of Citizens to Change Their Government Hong Kong is a free society, with most individual freedoms and rights protected by law and custom. Although the Government has moved to democratize district and municipal boards and LEGCO, citizens of the territory do not have the right to change the government. The Governor is appointed by and serves at the pleasure of the Crown. He is advised on policy by the executive council which he appoints. The LEGCO enacts and funds legislation and also debates policy and questions the administration. Although LEGCO's power to initiate legislation is limited (all bills with budgetary implications, for example, must be approved by the Government before introduction), it has become increasingly assertive. The Governor has ultimate control of the administration of Hong Kong but, by convention, rarely exercises his full powers. In practice, decisions are reached through consensus. Political parties and independent candidates are free to contest seats in free and fair elections. Representative government employing universal franchise exists at the local district board level. All district and municipal board members were elected in 1994 and 1995, respectively. In 1995 the Government implemented legislation which abolished all appointed seats in LEGCO. In September 920,000 voters, by direct or indirect balloting, selected members to fill these seats. Candidates of all political persuasions participated in free and fair elections, although there were scattered complaints regarding voter registration and ballot counting in a few areas. Out of a total of 60 seats, there were 20 geographical constituency seats directly elected, 10 seats selected by an election committee comprised of 283 locally elected officials, 9 seats selected by broad functional (occupational) constituencies, and 21 seats elected by more narrow functional groupings which disproportionately represent the economic and professional elites and violates the concept of one person-one vote, since voters in functional constituencies may vote both in a functional and geographic constituency. Although the elections did not result in a fully representative, democratically elected government, they significantly increased voters' ability to influence government decisionmaking through a greater number of elected representatives. The PRC has stated that it does not recognize the validity of the September LEGCO elections, and that the present LEGCO will "end/terminate" on June 30, 1997. The United Nations Human Rights Committee (UNHRC), in reviewing the application of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) to Hong Kong, stated that the current electoral system does not conform to the Covenant. The November 3, 1995 UNHRC report also criticized the structure of LEGCO, as changed under the recent electoral reforms, as still giving "undue weight to the views of the business community" and discriminating among voters "on the basis of property and functions." The UNHRC, while noting the United Kingdom's reservation to the ICCPR on the application of universal suffrage in Hong Kong, took the view that "once an elected legislative council is established, its election must conform" to the ICCPR's call for direct popular election of all seats. The Hong Kong Court of Appeal on November 24, 1995, ruled against two Hong Kong plaintiffs who challenged the Government on the legality of LEGCO functional constituencies under the terms of the Letters Patent and the Hong Kong Bill of Rights. The Government is continuing efforts to replace Hong Kong Chinese in senior government positions and has publicly committed to fill all "principal official" posts with local officers before 1997. As of April 1995, 70 percent of the Government's top directorate-level jobs and 80 percent of administrative and other senior management positions were filled by local staff. Expatriates remain in key positions in the legal department and the judiciary where localization progress has been slower, with 64 percent of the legal and 46 percent of judiciary officer positions currently localized. In addition, localization of mid-to- upper ranks of the police force has been slow. The Government's efforts to add Chinese to the Government were opposed by a group of expatriate government workers who undertook legal action against the Government, claiming they were being discriminated against under the provisions of the Hong Kong Bill of Rights. The Hong Kong High Court on October 31 ruled on the case, taking the position that most of the Government's localization arrangements were lawful. Women are playing a greater role in politics, with greater numbers running for public office in 1994 and 1995 than ever before. In 1995 women comprised 12 percent of LEGCO, 13 percent of the top Government directorate level posts, and 37 percent of Government administrative officers. Section 4 Governmental Attitude Regarding International and Nongovernmental Investigation of Alleged Violations of Human Rights The International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and on Economic, Social, and Cultural Rights currently applies to Hong Kong through the United Kingdom. China has agreed to extend these agreements to Hong Kong beyond 1997, although it has indicated that it does not consider itself to be obligated to implement the requirements under the agreements since China is not a signatory. In October the PRC-appointed Preliminary Working Committee's legal subgroup issued a statement which called for striking key sections from Hong Kong's Bill of Rights Ordinance (BOR), including those articles which incorporate the International Convention on Civil and Political Rights into Hong Kong law. The subgroup also recommended that other public security ordinances amended to conform to the BOR be changed to restore the Government's original prerogatives under these laws. The legal subgroup's statement was a recommendation, and to date no action has been taken to amend any section of the Bill of Rights. The UNHCR and nongovernmental human rights organizations have full access to Hong Kong's camps for Vietnamese boat people. Although the Government to date has interposed no official barriers to the formation of local human rights groups, some human rights activists believe that provisions of the Societies Ordinance provide the legal means whereby a future government could do so. Section 5 Discrimination Based on Race, Sex, Religion, Disability, Language, or Social Status In 1994 some LEGCO members supported the introduction of antidiscrimination measures addressing the problems of sex, age, race, and age discrimination. The Government opposed the legislation and instead introduced its own bills, both adopted in 1995, banning discrimination on the basis of sex and disability. The Chinese language has equal status with English in many government operations except in judicial proceedings. To help remedy the situation in judicial proceedings, the Government has increased the number of directorate officers in the Legal Aid Department proficient in Chinese from three (out of nine) to seven and initiated a pilot scheme for simultaneous interpretation in some court proceedings. Women Violence and discrimination against women remain significant problems in Hong Kong society. The only legislation to protect the rights of battered women is the 1987 Domestic Violence Ordinance, which enables a woman to seek a 3-month injunction against her husband which may be extended to 6 months. In addition, domestic violence may be prosecuted as common assault under existing criminal statutes. The Government enforces these laws and prosecutes violators. It also funds programs and services to stem domestic violence such as family life education counseling, a hotline service operated by the Social Welfare Department and nongovernmental organizations, 53 family service centers, 2 shelters for women and children, temporary housing, legal aid, and child protective services. Many women, however, do not seek help when they have been victims of violence, and many instances of domestic violence are not reported because of cultural factors and the Government's failure to publicize information about the assistance and resources available. Women's action groups continue to press for better legal and government protection for battered wives. Women face discrimination in areas of employment, salary, welfare, inheritance, and promotion (see Section 6.e.). Discrimination on the basis of age, particularly in hiring practices, is openly practiced, and is not prohibited by law. Children The Government demonstrates its strong commitment to children's rights and welfare through its well-funded systems of public education, medical care, and protective services. The Government supports child welfare programs including custody, protection, day care, foster care, shelters, and small group homes. Assistance is also provided to families. Child abuse and exploitation are not widespread problems in Hong Kong. Child labor is not a serious problem. The Government remains committed to the human rights and welfare of children. The International Covenant on the Rights of the Child was extended to Hong Kong by the United Kingdom in 1994. In 1995 amendments to the law were adopted by LEGCO making it easier for abused children to give evidence in court. Legal penalties for ill-treatment or neglect of minors were also substantially increased. People with Disabilities Organizations and individuals representing the interests of the disabled claim that discrimination against the physically and mentally disabled exists in employment, education, and the provision of some state services. Access to public buildings and transportation remain problems for the physically disabled. Advocacy groups have urged the Government to do more to encourage greater public tolerance of the mentally disabled. The Government has been responsive, undertaking programs aimed at fostering greater public acceptance of the disabled. In 1995 LEGCO passed the Antidiscrimination Law to protect the rights of the disabled. This Law calls for changes to the building ordinance to improve building access for the disabled and sanctions for those who discriminate against the disabled. National/Racial/Ethnic Minorities Racial discrimination against Filipino women, 140,000 of whom work under contract in Hong Kong, has been the focus of news reports. Also, despite official reassurance that Philippine workers would be welcome after 1997, reports indicate that employers of large numbers of Filipinos--hotels and the airport authority--are beginning to employ PRC Chinese instead. Section 6 Worker Rights a. The Right of Association The right of association and the right of workers to establish and join organizations of their own choosing are provided for by law. Trade unions must be registered under the Trade Unions Ordinance. The basic precondition for registration is a minimum of seven persons who serve in the same occupation. The Government does not discourage or impede the formation of unions. During 1994, 25 new trade unions were registered. Approximately 562,285 workers (or about 21 percent) out of a total labor force of 3 million belong to the 548 registered unions, most of which belong to 1 of 3 major trade union federations. Work stoppages and strikes are permitted. However, there are some restrictions on this right for civil servants. Even though the Employment Ordinance recognizes the right to strike, in practice most workers must sign employment contracts which typically state that walking off the job is a breach of contract and can lead to summary dismissal. The Employment Ordinance also permits firms to discharge or deduct wages from staff who are absent on account of a labor dispute. Hong Kong labor unions may form federations, confederations, and affiliate with international bodies. Any affiliation with foreign labor unions requires the consent of the Government. No application for such affiliation has so far been refused. Hong Kong's two leading labor federations, the Hong Kong Federation of Trade Unions and the Hong Kong Confederation of Trade Unions, were active participants in the territory's September LEGCO elections. As a dependent territory of the United Kingdom, Hong Kong is not a member in its own right of the International Labor Organization (ILO). The United Kingdom makes declarations on behalf of Hong Kong concerning the latter's obligations regarding the various ILO conventions. To date, Hong Kong has implemented provisions applying 49 conventions. In the Basic Law, China undertook to continue to adhere to these conventions after 1997. b. The Right to Organize and Bargain Collectively The ILO convention on the right to organize and bargain collectively has been applied to Hong Kong without modification since 1975. This convention does not obligate the Government to impose collective bargaining by statute. There are no laws which stipulate collective bargaining on a mandatory basis. Wage rates in a few trades like tailoring and carpentry are now determined collectively in accordance with established trade practices and customs rather than as a statutory mechanism. In practice, collective bargaining is not widely practiced. Unions generally are not powerful enough to force management to engage in collective bargaining. The Government does not encourage it, since the Government itself does not engage in collective bargaining with civil servants' unions but merely "consults" with them. Free conciliation services are afforded by the Labor Relations Division of the Department of Labor (DOL) to employers and employees involved in disputes which may involve statutory benefits and protection in employment as well as arrears of wages, wages instead of notice, and severance pay. The DOL assists employers and employees in dispute to reach amicable settlement, but does not have the authority to impose a solution. The DOL is not required by law to allow unions to represent employees in these proceedings, although it takes a positive attitude towards the participation by trade unions in dispute negotiations. The Labor Tribunal Ordinance provides that an officer of a registered trade union, who is authorized in writing by a claimant or defendant to appear as his representative, has the right of audience in the Labor Tribunal. The law protects workers against antiunion discrimination. Employees who allege such discrimination have the right to have their cases heard by the DOL's Labor Relations Division. Violation of the antiunion discrimination provisions under the Employment Ordinance is a criminal offense carrying a maximum fine of $2,564. However, employers are not required to reinstate or compensate an employee. The International Confederation of Free Trade Unions is highly critical of Hong Kong labor legislation's failure to protect the right to strike, and for its provisions allowing dismissals and disciplinary action against striking trade unionists. Individual labor claims are adjudicated by the Labor Tribunal, a part of the judicial branch, which is supposed to provide quick and inexpensive machinery for resolving certain types of disputes. The Tribunal complements the conciliation service provided by the Labor Relations Division. Union leaders complain, however, that the Tribunal takes too long--an average of 130 days--to hear workers' cases. Labor unions and legislators also are concerned about government plans to allow increases in imported labor, fearing downward pressure on wages. There are few protections for almost 152,000 Filipino, Thai, and Indonesian domestic workers who face deportation if dismissed by their employers and are thus vulnerable to abuse. There are no export processing zones. c. Prohibition of Forced or Compulsory Labor Existing labor legislation prohibits forced labor, and it is not practiced. d. Minimum Age for Employment of Children The Employment of Children Regulations prohibit employment of children under age 15 in any industrial establishment. Children ages 13 and 14 may be employed in certain nonindustrial establishments, subject to conditions aimed at ensuring a minimum of 9 years' education and protecting their safety, health, and welfare. During 1995 the Government continued inspections to safeguard against the employment of children. As in past years, few violations were found. e. Acceptable Conditions of Work There is no minimum wage except for foreign domestic workers. In 1995 the minimum wage for such workers was US$480(HK$3,750) a month. Because the law requires employers of domestic labor to provide such workers with housing, worker's compensation insurance, and meals or a meal allowance, this wage is sufficient to provide a worker with a decent standard of living. Aside from a small number of trades and industries where a uniform wage structure exists, wage levels are customarily fixed by individual agreement between employer and employee and are determined by supply and demand. Despite higher unemployment (the unemployment rate in the Fall was 3.5 percent), wage increases were given to most workers. Many employees also receive a year-end bonus of a month's pay or more. Some employers in the manufacturing sector provide workers with various kinds of allowances, free medical treatment, and free or subsidized transport. There are no legal restrictions on hours of work for men. The Women and Young Persons (Industry) Regulations under the Employment Ordinance control hours and conditions of work for women and for young people age 15 to 17. Work hours for young people are limited to 8 per day and 48 per week between 6 a.m. and 11 p.m. Women are permitted to work only between 7 a.m. and 7 p.m; however, this provision is very loosely enforced for persons age 16 or over. Overtime is restricted to 2 hours per day and 200 days per year for women and is prohibited for all persons under age 18 in industrial establishments. The regulations also prohibit women and young persons from working underground or, with the exception of males age 16 and 17, in dangerous trades. The Labor Inspectorate conducts workplace inspections to enforce compliance with these regulations. During 1994 there were 8,102 prosecutions for breaches of various ordinances and regulations. Fines totaling $3.8 million were imposed. The employment of underage workers is generally not a serious problem. The DOL Factory Inspectorate Department (FID) sets basic occupational safety and health standards, provides education and publicity, and follows up with enforcement and inspection in accordance with the Factories and Industrial Undertakings Ordinance and subsidiary regulations. The Inspectorate pays particular attention to safety in high-risk areas of factories and construction sites, with routine visits to such sites. During 1994, 78,621 inspections including 5,733 accident investigations were conducted. DOL officials acknowledged that accidents in construction and service sectors remain very high. Apart from routine inspections, the FID also expanded special inspections. During these campaigns 23,166 factories, 318 catering establishments, and 1,295 construction sites were inspected, resulting in 1,571 summons. Fines were varied, depending on the seriousness of the violation. There is continued need for stronger government enforcement and inspection efforts. As part of a complementary effort, the DOL Occupational Health Division investigates claims of occupational diseases and injuries at work, conducts environmental testing in the workplace, and provides medical examinations to employees in occupations that involve the handling of hazardous materials. The small number of inspectors--about 200--and the inability of workers to elect their own safety representatives weaken the enforcement of safety and health standards at the workplace. There is no specific legal provision allowing workers to remove themselves from dangerous work situations without jeopardy to continued employment. (###)
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