Comparative Human Rights

Proportionality in Criminal Punishment
Principal Investigator: Peter Chau
Project Period: 01/01/2016 – 31/12/2017
Funding Source: General Research Fund (RGC)

Plugging the Justice Gap for Minorities under the Law: Applied Intersectionality Research and Substantive Equality
Principal Investigator: Puja Kapai
Project Period: 28/6/2017 -30/06/2018
Funding Source: Faculty KE Award 2017

Gender Initiatives for WSR Works
Principal Investigator: Puja Kapai
Project Period: Dec 2016 – (no deadline)
Funding Source: The Association of Commonwealth Universities

Street Law – Human Rights Community Education
Principal Investigator: Lindsay Ernst
Project Period: 04/09/2014 -31/12/2018
Funding Source: Skadden Fellowship Foundation (pure donation)

Towards the Development of A Human Rights Impact Assessment for Social Welfare Policies in Hong Kong 
Principal Investigator: Karen Kong 
Project Period: 05/06/2016 – 04/12/2015 
Funding Source: Small Project Funding

Disability Rights Experiential Learning Programme 
Principal Investigator: Kelley Loper 
Project Period: 01/10/2015 – 31/12/2015 
Funding Source: Experiential Learning Fund – Gallant Ho Experiential Learning Centre

Disability Rights Portal 
Principal Investigator: Kelley Loper 
Project Period: 01/01/2014 – 31/05/2014 (extended) 
Funding Source: Open Society Institute

The Status of Ethnic Minorities in Hong Kong 1997-2014 
Principal Investigator: Puja Kapai 
Project Period: 01/04/2014 – 31/10/2015 
Funding Source: The Zubin Foundation

“The Status of Ethnic Minorities in Hong Kong, 1997 to 2014” was commissioned by The Zubin Foundation’s Shalini Mahtani and conducted by Puja Kapai, Director at the University of Hong Kong’s Centre for Comparative and Public and Law.

“The Status of Ethnic Minorities in Hong Kong, 1997 to 2014” is the first research on ethnic minorities across all areas of life, from crime and health to employment and education, and has been compiled, synthesized and interpreted by author Puja Kapai. What is unique too about this research is that two ethnic minority women, Shalini Mahtani and Puja Kapai, are behind it.

The research presented in this Report is drawn from existing data and research material that is publicly available. In some circumstances, the data pertains to ethnic minority groups more broadly and includes data of groups in addition to those that have been identified as the focus for this Report. In some areas, where limited data disaggregated by ethnicity is available, the data referenced is provided to offer a general impression and should be viewed with this important caveat in mind. It may, in such instances, be unreliable to draw generalised conclusions from the limited data. However, it has been included to highlight that more specific data disaggregated by ethnicity, gender, age and other variables is desirable to facilitate policy development and focused interventions. These are data gaps that we recognise and have identified through this report. We encourage the government and other researchers to identify additional data gaps and supplement with research of their own.

  1. Cover Page and Inside Page
  2. Table of Contents
  3. Acknowledgements
  4. Foreword
  5. Introduction
  6. The Rights of Ethnic Minorities Under the Law- Equality and Non-discrimination
  7. Key Demographic Data
  8. Chapter 1: Perceptions and Self-Perceptions
  9. Chapter 2: Language, Integration, Identity, and Belonging
  10. Chapter 3: The Education of Ethnic Minorities in Hong Kong
  11. Chapter 4: The Employment of Ethnic Minorities
  12. Chapter 5: Poverty and Social Welfare
  13. Chapter 6: Marriage, Family, and Domestic Violence
  14. Chapter 7: Healthcare needs of Ethnic Minorities
  15. Chapter 8: Crime and Law Enforcement
  16. Key Observations and Recommendations
  17. Bibliography

Click here to download all chapters

Video Interview for Developing a Narrative of Different Ethnic Minority Communities in Hong Kong
Principal Investigator: Puja Kapai 
Project Period: Funding Source: The United States of America

Survey of Public Opinion Toward Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender People in Hong Kong 
Principal Investigator: Kelley Loper 
Project Period: 02/2014 – 02/2016 
Funding Source: HKU Small Project Funding

A Comparative Study on Children’s Rights Education: Implications for Policy Reform in Hong Kong 
Investigators: Puja Kapai, John Bacon-Shone, Annelotte Walsh, Fay Wong) 
Policy Brief
Executive Summary

Hong Kong Human Rights Action Plan
Traditional Chinese 繁 
Simplified Chinese 简 
Press Release

Delivering on the Promise of Equal Protection under the Law: Understanding the Experiences and Help-seeking Behaviours of Ethnic Minority and Immigrant Victims of Domestic Violence in Hong Kong and the United Kingdom
Principal Investigator: Puja Kapai
Project Period: 2011-2013
Funding Source: HKU Seed Funding Programme for Basic Research

Legal Assistance for Asylum Seekers and Torture Claimants in Hong Kong 
Principal Investigator: Kelley Loper 
Co-Investigator: Simon Young 
Project Period: October 2009 – September 2012 
Funding Source: Research Grants Council Public Policy Research Grant 2009/2010 
This study aims to identify alternative approaches to the provision of legal assistance to asylum seekers and torture claimants through an examination of relevant legal assistance schemes in other common law jurisdictions. The project will determine gaps in Hong Kong law and policy and then assess whether any elements of the comparative models investigated are appropriate for adoption in the Hong Kong context. The study seeks to identify an effective legal aid and assistance model for claimants and to determine what criteria can be used to measure suitability of comparative models for potential application in Hong Kong.

Diversity Studies 
Principal Investigators: Puja Kapai and Kelley Loper 
Project Period: May 2009 – September 2010 
Funding Source: Seeding Funding for Emerging Strategic Research Themes (SRT) 
Migration has generated an increasingly borderless world which has challenged the nation-state model as an effective tool for the governance of multiplicities and the management of diversity. As the nation-state is faced with the challenge of dealing with immigrants, non-nationals, refugees and others with newly emerging identities, there is a need to reassess existing frameworks for recognition of the claims of minority communities. This project culminated in a conference on Managing Diversity in Plural Societies.

Harnessing a Framework for Effective Remedies: A Comparative Analysis of the Legal Responses to Domestic Violence 
Principal Investigator: Puja Kapai 
Project Period: January 2009 – June 2010 
Funding Source: Research Grants Council CERG 2008/2009 
The HKSAR Government has recently amended the Domestic Violence Ordinance in an attempt to remedy some of the problems faced by the victim community. The continued appraisal of the law’s response to domestic violence is critical in order to make calculated further improvements and to move forward in the right direction. This project considers legal responses to domestic violence in Singapore and the United Kingdom and compares these approaches with the recent developments in Hong Kong. It will examine current legislation and case law in these jurisdictions in order to determine where Hong Kong stands on the spectrum of reform in domestic violence laws. The objectives of the study are to examine the civil and criminal remedies currently available in the three jurisdictions, evaluate the responsiveness and effectiveness of these remedies and to assess indicators of success.

Covert Surveillance in an Age of Privacy 
Principal Investigators: Michael Jackson and Janice Brabyn 
Project Period: September 2005 – August 2008 
Funding Source: Small Project Funding 
This project examined covert surveillance regulatory systems in overseas jurisdictions from theoretical and practical perspectives with a view to assessing the existing regulatory model adopted in HK in 2006 following the enactment of the Interception and Covert Surveillance Ordinance (Cap. 589). The aim was to review and propose amendments to the regulatory system adopted in HK within which interception and covert surveillance may be authorised without derogating disproportionately from respect for and compliance with constitutionally protected rights, including rights to privacy. Current efforts involve compiling an electronic database of materials (primary legislation, secondary legislation (especially regulations), codes of conduct, practice notes, case law, secondary sources etc.) on the regulation of interception and covert surveillance in a range of jurisdictions, including the UK, US, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Singapore, and the European Union. Once this phase of the project was completed, the investigators surveyed the relevant legislation/codes of practice in the above jurisdictions and prepared and submitted a position/policy paper to the Government of HK, which is currently undertaking a comprehensive review of the ordinance.

Hong Kong Equality & the Law Project 
Principal Investigator: Kelley Loper 
Project Period: April 2008 – December 2009 
Funding Source: Seed Funding Programme for Basic Research 
In mid-1995 the Hong Kong legislature enacted the territory’s first detailed anti-discrimination legislation in the areas of sex and disability discrimination. This represented an important and innovative development in the protection of human rights in Hong Kong and posed considerable challenges to all those who will be affected by the legislation or who have a role in implementing or monitoring compliance with it. The Equal Opportunities Commission (EOC) was established to oversee the legislation’s implementation in May 1996 and the legislation entered into force in late 1996. The Family Status Discrimination Ordinance enacted in mid-1997 entered into force on 21 November 1997. A Consultation Paper on legislation against racial discrimination was published in September 2004 by the Hong Kong SAR Home Affairs Bureau and a race discrimination billwas tabled in the Legislative Council in December 2006. Unfortunately the proposed Bill was not only confusing and inconsistent in its application with the mechanisms of both the Sex Discrimination Ordinance (SOD) and Disability Discrimination Ordinance (DDO)–parts of it actually appear to promote discrimination. Requests to the Government was met with a “take it or leave it” reply. Members of the Law Faculty Ms. Vandana Rajwani and Ms. Kelley Loper, with Mr Mr. Law Yuk Kai (Hong Kong Human Rights Monitor) and other activists turned to the United Nations Committee on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination in Geneva to persuade the Committee to review this issue even though HK/China was not on the agenda. The Committee analysed the Bill and noted that it was potentially in violation of the UN CERD Convention. It then formally agreed to review the issue, which has been officially included in the agenda. The Hong Kong Government finally agreed to amend several key provisions of the Bill. Submission to the CERD Committee by Ms Kelley Loper 
Press Release by Legislator Ms. Margaret Ng’s office (Chinese Version
Letter to HK/China issued by the CERD Committee

The UN Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination and the Concept of Substantive Equality 
Principal Investigator: Kelley Loper 
Project Period: April 2008 – December 2009 
Funding Source: Seed Funding Programme for Basic Research 
This project examines the work of the Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination, the monitoring body of the UN Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Racial Discrimination, in order to assess the Committee’s theoretical approach to the concept of equality. Kelley Loper worked with two CCPL young researchers, Helen Au and Rachel Tam, to review documents produced by the Committee and test the hypothesis that the Committee’s interpretations of state obligations reflect a substantive – as opposed to a formal – notion of equality.

Equality Law and Inclusive Education for Disabled Students 
Principal Investigator: Kelley Loper 
Project Period: 
Funding Source: Henry Chan Inclusive Education Fund
This project considers the extent to which disability discrimination laws require or support the implementation of inclusive education programmes for disabled students. The study examines Hong Kong’s Disability Discrimination Ordinance, domestic  equality guarantees from other jurisdictions, and relevant international human rights standards. The research team is supervised by Kelley Loper and includes several student  researchers. The project aims to promote awareness of disability rights and equal  opportunities among Hong Kong students and assist policy makers in developing policies which promote inclusion in education. The results of the study were published and  reported at a forum in summer 2008. 

Enforcing Equal Opportunities in Hong Kong
Principal Investigator: Carole Petersen 
Co-Investigators: Andrew Byrnes, Cecilia Chan, Katherine Lynch 
Senior Research Assistants: Janice Fong and Gabrielle Rush 
Project Period: December 2000 – May 2003 
Funding Source: Research Grants Council Competitive Earmarked Research Grant 
CCPL concluded a major study of investigation, conciliation, and other enforcement mechanisms of the EOC in 2003. When anti-discrimination laws were first proposed in Hong Kong, the issue of enforcement was debated at length, both in the legislature and the community. Traditional litigation in the courts was considered insufficient. Instead, the Hong Kong Equal Opportunities Commission was created and endowed with a wide range of powers, including the power to investigate and conciliate complaints. While complainants still have the option of suing in the courts, the high cost of litigating means that most complainants turn to the Commission for assistance and it has a statutory obligation to attempt to conciliate a complaint before even considering an application for legal assistance. As a result, the vast majority of complaints filed with the EOC will never be litigated in court. Unlike court decisions, the results of conciliated cases are not normally published. Thus a dedicated research project was necessary to analyze and assess such cases. Critical issues include: the types of complaints filed; expectations of complainants and respondents; local attitudes towards conciliation; the willingness of parties to participate in face-to-face conferences; and the relationship between various factors and the remedy obtained. The Commission’s use of other enforcement powers (such as the power to conduct formal investigations, fund litigation, and seek judicial review of government action) was also studied, as these powers can be particularly effective against certain types of systemic discrimination. The study also assessed the impact of judicial interpretation of the legislation (as this can influence the Commission’s ability to promote compliance with the law and conciliate complaints).

Ethnic Minorities and the Hong Kong Education System 
Principal Investigator: Kelley Loper 
Project Period: 
Funding Source: 
Cases of unequal treatment toward ethnic minority students in the Hong Kong education system have been reported by the press and recounted by NGOs and social workers in recent years. This issue has become increasingly salient due to changing demographics in Hong Kong and new education policies that affect ethnic minority groups disproportionately. Kelley Loper and researcher Lam Wai Har documented and compiled cases of potentially discriminatory treatment towards ethnic minority students at all levels of education in Hong Kong. The study analyses relevant equal opportunities issues from legal and policy perspectives, and makes specific suggestions to ensure the effectiveness of a future Racial Discrimination Ordinance. In November 2006, CCPL and the Faculty of Education at the University of Hong Kong jointly organized a research sharing session on the Implications of Law and Language Policy for Ethnic Minority Students in the Hong Kong Education System. In December 2011, CCPL made a submission the HK government on this issue. The study also resulted in two Occasional Papers, one in 2004 and the other in 2009.