Equal Opportunities Commission


E-news Issue 198


EOC Chairperson dispels disinformation about GANHRI accreditation

In response to recent media reports about EOC receiving a “C” status from the Global Alliance of National Human Rights Institutions (GANHRI), EOC Chairperson, Prof Alfred CHAN Cheung-ming published an article in am730 on 28 November 2018 to further clarify the reasons behind the accreditation, following a statement issued by the EOC on 21 November 2018.

GANHRI’s Sub-Committee on Accreditation (SCA), the body responsible for the status classification, assesses national human rights institutions (NHRIs) in terms of their compliance with the Paris Principles in law and in practice. Adopted in 1993 by the United Nations General Assembly, the Paris Principles consist of six major criteria, namely: a broad mandate, based on universal human rights norms and standards; autonomy from government; independence guaranteed by statute or constitution; pluralism; adequate resources; and adequate powers of investigation.

According to Section 63(7) of the Sex Discrimination Ordinance, the EOC “shall not be regarded as a servant or agent of the Government or as enjoying any status, immunity or privilege of the Government”. In other words, the EOC has autonomy over the management and control of its activities and budget. Notwithstanding so, the EOC is a Government-subvented body, with its Chairperson and Members appointed by the Chief Executive of HKSAR. Contrary to claims made in a number of recent news reports, what form the basis of the GANHRI accreditation are these very structural factors, which are both beyond the control of the Commission and unrelated to its extensive work, from complaint investigation, conciliation and legal assistance to research, training, policy advocacy and public education.

“Let’s not forget that we have, in the past, taken the Government to court to unmask the discriminatory nature of some of its administrative practices. We have also dished out criticism where it’s due – inaccessible public premises, outdated sex education policies, sluggishness in offering legal protection to the LGBTI community, you name it,” said Prof Chan. “While we do believe there is room in the law for a more concrete approach to ensuring the Commission’s independence – a position we made clear as early as in the 2014 Discrimination Law Review, we will continue to serve the local community, combat discrimination, and promote equality with vigor, conviction and professionalism.”