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【法政匯思短評】梁振英就禁止酷刑公約的言論 輕率危險 無助解決問題

2016/1/19 — 14:25

【法政匯思短評:關於梁振英近日就《禁止酷刑和其他殘忍、不人道或有辱人格的待遇或處罰公約》的看法】
THE PROGRESSIVE LAWYERS GROUP'S SHORT COMMENTARY REGARDING CY LEUNG's RECENT VIEWS ON THE CONVENTION AGAINST TORTURE AND OTHER CRUEL, INHUMAN OR DEGRADING TREATMENT OR PUNISHMENT

行政長官梁振英早前回應傳媒「酷刑聲請」提問的時候,談及有人濫用「酷刑聲請」機制,並說如果有需要,香港會退出聯合國《禁止酷刑和其他殘忍、不人道或有辱人格的待遇或處罰公約》(「《公約》」)。我們認為這是一個相當輕率且危險的想法,無助解決問題。

自1992年起,《公約》便適用於香港。中國政府於1988年批准《公約》,而香港回歸後,《公約》在香港仍然有效,香港政府必須履行《公約》的責任。

廣告

《公約》第3(1)條規定,如有充分理由相信任何人在另一國家將有遭受酷刑的危險,任何締約國不得將該人驅逐、遣返或引渡至該國。第4條則規定締約國必須將一切酷刑定為刑事罪行。在香港,《刑事罪行(酷刑)條例》便將與公務人員或以公職身分行事的人作出、唆使、同意或默許的酷刑定為刑事罪行,最高刑罰為終身監禁。除此之外,公約第19條也規定締約國每四年要向聯合國禁止酷刑委員會提交履行公約義務的報告。現時,香港政府的報告被納入中國報告的一部份。

各國際人權公約的權威性,來自國際社會的共同監督;履行《公約》義務,是對國際社會負責任的表現。違反國際人權公約,會受到國際輿論強烈的反彈。過去,聯合國禁止酷刑委員會曾要求香港政府回應雨傘運動中警察過度使用暴力,例如胡椒噴霧、警棍、催淚彈等,以及「暗角七警」的情況。貿然退出任何國際公約,對有關權利的保障,絕對是一大倒退。

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任何機制都有被濫用的可能,但是因有濫用而退出保障基本人權的國際公約,只是斬腳趾避沙蟲。事實上,經過了兩宗終審法院就免遣返原則的判案,在2014年3月,入境處推出了酷刑聲請/難民身份統一審核機制,加快了處理免遣返的申請,減低申請者在香港等待的時間(過往出現過等待長達超過5年的情況),也可減低濫用的誘因。根據立法會保安事務委員會2015年7月的文件,入境處平均需要25週便可對一申請作出決定。雖然新制度仍被批評有很多不足之處,但是港府根本不需要退出國際公約,也可透過優化機制,以減少濫用。

最後,我們希望市民不要因有一部份人的濫用,而以偏概全地標籤所有酷刑聲請/難民身份的申請者,也希望傳媒不要過份渲染,散播仇恨或排斥難民的意識。在今時今日的世界,每一個國家及地區都面對著林林總總的困境,大家都可能隨時需要依靠別國的合作及支援,難以獨善其身。將心比心,共同保障所有人類的固有尊嚴,正是國際人權法,以及文明社會的核心價值。

法政匯思
2016年1月19日

(標題由立場編輯所擬)

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Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying, in response to a journalist’s question at a recent press conference, said that Hong Kong will unilaterally withdraw from The Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (the “Convention”) “if it is needed”. This is a rather reckless and dangerous idea and does not help solve the problem of dealing with claims for refugee status and asylum.
The Convention has been applicable to Hong Kong since 1992 and was ratified by China in 1988. After the handover, the Convention has remained effective in Hong Kong which means that the HKSAR Government must continue to fulfil its undertakings under the Convention.

Article 3(1) of the Convention stipulates that no State Party shall expel, return or extradite a person to another State where there are substantial grounds for believing that that person would be in danger of being subjected to torture. Article 4 requires each State Party to ensure that all acts of torture are offences under its criminal legislation. In Hong Kong, the Crimes (Torture) Ordinance states that any public officer or any person acting in the capacity as a public officer is liable to life imprisonment at maximum if that person inflicts, or consents to, or acquiesces in the infliction of, severe pain or suffering on another person. In addition, Article 19 of the Convention requires each State Party to submit a report every four years on the measures taken to give effect to its undertakings under the Convention. At present, Hong Kong’s report forms part of China’s report.

The recognition of international human rights conventions requires the mutual cooperation and supervision from the international community. It is also the responsibility of each State Party to fulfil its undertakings under the Convention. Any contravention of an international convention will spark severe criticisms from the international community. In the past, the UN Committee Against Torture had urged the HKSAR Government to respond to the excessive use of violence by the police during the Umbrella Movement, such as the use of pepper spray, batons, tear-gas bombs and also the incident where a protester was beaten up by seven policemen.

It is indisputable that any mechanism is susceptible to abuse. However, to withdraw from an international convention safeguarding basic human rights solely on the ground of possible abuse is neither a palliative nor a cure. In fact, following two decisions of the Court of Final Appeal regarding the non-refoulement principles, the Immigration Department has in March 2014 introduced a Unified Screening Mechanism for CAT / refugee claims applicants, which helped speed up the process for non-refoulement claims and shortened the applicants’ waiting time in Hong Kong (there were cases in the past where applicants had to wait for as long as five years), hence dis-incentivising any abuse of the system. According to a paper issued by the LegCo Panel on Security in July 2015, the Immigration Department only needed 25 weeks on average to decide on an application. Although the new mechanism still has its shortcomings, the HKSAR Government should continue to work on improving the mechanism rather than withdrawing from the Convention.

Finally, we urge Hong Kong citizens not to make generalisations about all refugees or torture claims applicants being abusers, and we urge the media not to exaggerate, spread or encourage any form of hatred or discrimination towards refugees. Hardships are everywhere – in any country and any region at any time. It is impossible for a country or a region to stay completely aloof as there will always be times when international cooperation and foreign assistance are required. It is also a core value of international human rights law, and of a civilised society, to work together towards protecting and defending the inherent dignity of humankind.

Progressive Lawyers Group
19 January 2016
 

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