A Portal on Human Rights

A Portal on Human Rights

Professor Simon Young (middle) and members of the CCPL team

Human rights advocates, policy makers and researchers produce a great quantity of material on the subject - so much so that it can be a mighty task to stay on top of developments. A new website is helping to make the job easier by providing a one-stop source of information on human rights, with a particular focus on Asia.

The Human Rights Portal is targeted at government officials and policy-making institutes, non-government organisations, and interested members of the general public.

"To the best of our knowledge, there is no such comprehensive database of materials housed in Asia in the manner that we are doing," said Professor Simon Young, who set up the website when he was Director of the Faculty of Law's Centre for Comparative and Public Law (CCPL).

"The Centre is uniquely positioned to fill this gap due to its global and regional connections, both politically and legally, and its past cooperation with international and regional human rights bodies."

The website available in both English and Chinese (traditional and simplified characters) includes materials from local and international NGOs, government bodies, academic scholars from around the world, and from the CCPL, that are organised into nine areas: Asia, Hong Kong, women, equality, migration, disability, diversity, criminal justice, and expression and religion. It also highlights human rights expertise in the HKU Faculty of Law.

There are nearly 200 web pages of human rights information, more than 70 video clips, numerous reports and academic publications, interviews and case stories, links to media coverage of human rights, and the Hong Kong Human Rights Action Plan, which is an initiative by CCPL to promote discussion of human rights in Hong Kong.

The launch of the website in October 2012 generated international interest and was covered by the New York Times. Press statements were also uploaded from the CCPL on the case of Edward Snowden, who leaked information of mass surveillance programmes by the US and British governments and hid from US authorities in Hong Kong before flying to Russia.

"We learned from the Snowden case that short and clear advisory notes on important questions can have a powerful impact in the media," Professor Young said.

"We are now going to prepare some human rights information notes on questions that ordinary people might ask in Hong Kong or China. For example, what if I am charged with a criminal offence in mainland China - what should I expect and be aware of?"

The Centre will also update the Human Rights Action Plan in light of new reviews by UN bodies of Hong Kong's human rights situation.

Professor Simon N M Young received the Faculty Knowledge Exchange Award 2013 of the Faculty of Law for the 'Human Rights Portal'.