The rankings report by the Human Rights Measurement Initiative (HRMI) showed that Hong Kong has plunged further in its human rights, bringing it on a par with Saudi Arabia in some indicators and closer to converging with China, as the Communist party government deepens its control on the region.
HRMI also highlighted a deepening divide in China between high scores in quality-of-life indicators and some of the world’s lowest for civil and political rights. But the organisation found rights to basic essentials were often stripped from people for political reasons.
Now in its fifth year, the HRMI conducts national surveys to assess a country’s quality of life, safety from the state and empowerment, against what that government can afford to offer. It also provides a ranking against other countries.
Hong Kong’s political rights dropped dramatically after a crackdown on the 2019 pro-democracy protests and the introduction of the national security law in 2020.
In 2021 it plunged even further, dropping to second-last place in empowerment rights, falling below Vietnam and bringing it on par with Saudi Arabia’s margin of error.
“What we see here is Hong Kong’s scores are converging downwards towards [last placed]China’s score,” said Thalia Kehoe Rowden, a spokesperson for the HRMI.
Indicators for the right to freedom of assembly and association, opinion and expression, and participation in government were also all “very bad”, with average scores of 2.5. The scores were 4 or above in 2019.
The survey found the right to freedom from arbitrary arrest in Hong Kong was in the lowest “very bad” range, with a score of 3.5 out of 10. The risk of torture and ill treatment was also considered high, falling in the “bad” range at 5.5.
The human rights experts surveyed said those most at risk were protesters, political activists, people with “particular political affiliations or beliefs” and human rights advocates.
However, the fifth most cited group was “all people”, with respondents making specific mention of the 60 or so civil society and labour organisations and media outlets 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 resulted in thousands of mostly young people being arrested with many jailed.
Hundreds of thousands of residents have left.
A survey this week found young people in particular were resistant with the move to have the once semi-autonomous region subsumed into greater China, with just 2% identifying as “Chinese”, a drop from 5.4% just six months ago. More than three-quarters of the 18-29 age group identified as “Hong Kongers”. (Source: The Guardian)