Statement by the Consulate General of Canada on the proposal to implement Article 23 legislation in Hong Kong

Hong Kong

December 23, 2002

Hong Kong is internationally respected for its transparency, independent judiciary, the rule of law, and respect for human rights, elements that continue to benefit its economy and people. Canada shares these values and wants them to continue to flourish in Hong Kong.

The Government's proposal to legislate under Article 23 of the Basic Law is one of the most important legislative issues to face the Hong Kong SAR since the handover. Canada has undertaken careful study of the Consultation Document, particularly in the context of Hong Kong's obligations under international human rights covenants and the potential extraterritoriality of certain provisions.

We recognize the obligation of the Hong Kong SAR to enact legislation with respect to those provisions of Article 23 not adequately covered by existing law and welcome the Government's commitment to ensure that such legislation is consistent with the provisions of international covenants on human rights to which Hong Kong is a party. In particular, the legislation should respect basic freedoms including freedom of religion, expression, association, and press.

On December 23, 2002, Canada expressed its views on Article 23 in a submission to the Hong Kong SAR. The submission raised the following concerns:

An appropriate next step would be the publication of proposed legislation in a manner that facilitates further discussion and analysis. Canada will be following this issue closely.

Minister for International Trade Pierre Pettigrew and Secretary of State for Asia Pacific David Kilgour have raised some of these concerns during recent discussions with representatives of the Hong Kong Government.

There are over half a million people of Hong Kong origin living in Canada, and more than 200 000 Canadians living in Hong Kong.

ENDS