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MSAR has “disagreements” with UN panel’s observations on human rights

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In response to the concluding observations of the initial report on Macau released by the United Nations Human Rights Committee at the end of last month, the MSAR government said that it “respects” the Committee’s observations but the authority has “disagreements” with the Committee on some issues.
In a press conference yesterday Macau Conscience condemned the authority saying that it provided “repeated lies” and misleading information.
In the UN’s report, the Committee regrets the absence of universal suffrage in Macau: “(…) The Committee regrets that Macau, China has not expressed its intention to institute universal suffrage to ensure the right of all persons to vote at genuine elections and to stand for election without unreasonable limitations nor indicated any timeline for the introduction of such an electoral system”.
Furthermore, the UN suggests that Macau should outline a “clear and comprehensive plan of action” and set timelines for the transition to an electoral system based on universal suffrage.
Florinda Chan, Secretary for Administration and Justice, replied that the current election methods of Macau are based on the local reality and they don’t go against the international covenant. “Since the handover, we have been heading towards democracy. We replied (to the committee) that after the handover there were 23 legislators at the Legislative Assembly. But there are 33 in this year’s election. Macau’s development plan for the political system has to be decided by the Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress. We will take it step [by step]. We must stick strictly to the Basic Law,” Florinda Chan said, quoted by TDM.  
In a reply as to whether there is a plan to introduce universal suffrage, Florinda Chan said Macau will head towards democracy step by step.
Macau Conscience urged the government to start “honest public consultations on the timeline of a genuine political reform” as soon as possible.  Moreover, the activist group insisted that the official report undergoes public scrutiny before submission.
Another cause for tension lies in the fact that, as put forth in the official announcement, Macau government thinks it is “not necessary” to establish a human rights institution, as the Committee proposed in its observations. The Macau government argues that since the human rights have been “fully protected” by special institutions, such as the Commission Against Corruption (CCAC), a human rights’ institution is not necessary. 
The Committee also urged the local government to ensure that the ombudsman’s service to the Commission Against Corruption (CCAC) is independent. The government stressed in its reply that the independence of the Commission Against Corruption is not affected by the fact that the Chief Executive appoints its head.
Separately, the Committee showed concern for measures taken against journalists and social activists that “create an environment which discourages the expression of critical positions or critical media reporting on matters of valid public interest and adversely affect the exercise of freedom of expression in Macau.” The government reiterated that journalists fully enjoy freedom of the press and are allowed to enter Macau freely. “Those who are banned from entering are banned because the authority believes they might affect security,” the government said.

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