Hong Kong has dipped further in a human rights ranking report, bringing it closer to Saudi Arabia in some indicators, and closing in on convergence with China as the Communist Party government deepens its control over the region .
The Human Rights Measurement Initiative (HRMI) ranking report also highlighted a widening gap in China between high scores on quality of life indicators and some of the lowest in the world for civil and political rights. But the organization found that basic rights were often taken away from people for political reasons.
Now in its fifth year, the HRMI conducts national surveys to assess a country’s quality of life, state security and empowerment, against what that government can afford to deliver. It also provides a ranking against other countries.
Hong Kong’s political rights plummeted dramatically after the crackdown on pro-democracy protests in 2019 and the introduction of the National Security Law in 2020. In 2021, it plunged even further, falling to the front -last place in empowerment rights, falling below Vietnam and bringing it to a par with Saudi Arabia’s margin of error.
“What we see here is that the Hong Kong scores are converging down to [last placed] China’s score,” said HRMI spokesperson Thalia Kehoe Rowden.
Indicators of the right to freedom of assembly and association, opinion and expression, and participation in government were also all “very poor,” with average scores of 2.5. Scores were 4 or higher in 2019.
The survey found that the right not to be arbitrarily arrested in Hong Kong was in the lowest range of “very bad”, with a score of 3.5 out of 10. The risk of torture and ill-treatment was also considered high, falling into the “poor” category. range at 5.5.
Human rights experts interviewed said those most at risk were protesters, political activists, people with “particular political affiliations or beliefs” and human rights defenders. However, the fifth most cited group was ‘all people’, with respondents specifically mentioning the 60 or so civil society and labor organizations and the media that had been shut down.
China’s control over Hong Kong has continued despite opposition from democracy advocates and other world governments. The crackdown has led to the arrest of thousands of people, mostly young people, and many imprisoned. Hundreds of thousands of residents left. A survey this week found young people in particular were resistant to the move to incorporate the once semi-autonomous region into greater China, with just 2% identifying as ‘Chinese’, a drop from 5.4 % just six months ago. More than three-quarters of 18-29 year olds identify as “Hong Kongese”.
In China, a record number of people responded to HRMI’s clandestine survey. The results showed a divided country, where quality of life indicators were high but political rights extraordinarily low. All its quality of life indicators, for the right to housing, health, water, education and work, were in the “fair” or “good” range, the protection of the right to health by China being the second highest in the world.
Its housing indicator received its lowest score of 87.2%, an assessment brought down by a score of 83.9% for basic sanitation, below more than 100 other countries. This translated to 129 million people without access to basic sanitation and 106 million without water in their premises, which the HRMI assessed that China had the financial capacity to provide, highlighting a growing gap between the rich and poor people.
However, its civil and political rights practices were “among the worst in our data set, and probably among the worst in the world,” said Dr. K Chad Clay, head of methodology research and design. HRMI.
Respondents most often said that “everyone” was at risk of abusing empowerment rights, said Matt Rains, civil and political rights officer at HRMI. “Protests or even criticism at any level puts you at risk, as even online spaces are closely monitored by state agents… The message from our respondents is clear: no one in China enjoys political rights , with the exception of a few selected members of the political elite. ”
HRMI researchers noted that the polar divide between social and economic rights on one side and civil and political rights on the other could converge when the former’s withdrawal was used as a threat or punishment against dissenters.
“The expression of opinions not approved by the Communist Party can lead to denial of health care, denial of housing and loss of employment – not only for the dissidents themselves, but for their families” , Rains said. “Lives can be – and are – being ruined in China for daring to speak out.”
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Post expires at 3:58am on Monday July 4th, 2022