October 24, 2014

UN rights panel calls for open elections in Hong Kong

The UN Human Rights Committee has supported the call for open elections in Hong Kong. Photo: Reuters

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UN rights panel calls for open elections in Hong Kong

The United Nations Human Rights Committee has urged China to ensure universal suffrage in Hong Kong, with people given the right to vote as well as the right to stand for election.

At a meeting in Geneva, a panel of 18 independent experts, who monitor compliance with an international treaty on civil and political rights, voiced concern at Beijing’s plan to vet candidates in Hong Kong, Reuters reported.

The committee agreed on “the need to ensure universal suffrage, which means both the right to be elected as well as the right to vote. The main concerns of Committee members were focused on the right to stand for elections without unreasonable restrictions,” Konstantine Vardzelashvili, who chaired the session, was quoted as saying at the conclusion of the meeting.

Later, the panel issued a statement which said “the Committee requires additional information on the specific method for selecting the CE (chief executive) and the LegCo (Legislative Council) by universal suffrage, which includes the right to vote and the right to stand for election, and its compatibility with the Covenant.”

The International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, a landmark treaty adopted by the UN General Assembly in 1966, was signed by China in 1998 but never ratified.

The pact guarantees fundamental freedoms including the right to self-determination and free and regular elections.

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