Report on Political Screening in Hong Kong: Disqualification of Election Candidates and Legislators

Ahead of the nomination period of the upcoming Legislation Election that begins this Saturday, Civil Rights Observer today (16th July) publishes a report on political screening in Hong Kong, documenting consecutive disqualifications of election candidates and legislators in recent years. In the past few days, officials publicly questioned the eligibility of candidates opposing the national security law and warned candidates who took part in the primaries of breaching the newly enacted legislation by proposing to veto the Budget once elected. Civil Rights Observer expresses concern over these claims as they appear to put barriers to certain candidates. We share the wide-spread worry that large scale disqualification is likely to reoccur in the Legislation Election scheduled in September.

Since the introduction of the confirmation form in 2016, there were 18 disqualification incidents. 6 elected legislators were involved, rendering a sum of over 185 thousand votes invalid (Note 1). 3 seats gained in the by-election were later deemed unduly elected by the court, due to wrongful disqualification in the first place. Additional 427 thousand votes were disregarded (Note 2).

Outlined in the General Comment No.25 by the UN Human Rights Committee (Note 3), the right to vote and to stand for election are fundamental political rights under the provision of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR). Disqualification of candidacy is not a matter of the candidate concerned alone; voters are also at stake. They are deprived of free expression of the will as electors and are left with limited choices of candidates. The use of political views and political affiliation to bar candidates to run for polls is also strictly prohibited under the ICCPR, or otherwise may amount to imposing “unreasonable or discriminatory requirements” to the candidates, according to the Committee.

Civil Rights Observer believes that a fair, just, general and periodic election is a vital mechanism for public opinions to be heard, as well as a key indicator of freedom and democracy. As declared in three recent successful election petitions, the disqualifications concerned were wrongful. It is necessary for the government to act with restraint and stop screening candidates by restrictions that deviate from international human rights standards. The upcoming Legislative Election should be held without any unreasonable restrictions.

Full report: https://bit.ly/2DH2r85

Note 1: The sum of votes gained by Baggio Leung, Yau Wai-ching, Edward Yiu, Nathan Law, Leung Kwok-hung and Lau Siu-lai, see Appendix
Note 2: The sum of votes gained by Au Nok-hin, Chan Hoi-yan and Gary Fan, see Appendix
Note 3: General Comment No.25, UN Human Rights Committee. Available at: https://tbinternet.ohchr.org/_layouts/15/treatybodyexternal/Download.aspx?symbolno=CCPR%2fC%2f21%2fRev.1%2fAdd.7&Lang=en

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