Leitner Center Stakeholder Submission Highlights Migrant Rights for China’s UPR

November 23, 2023

Geneva, Switzerland

In advance of China’s Universal Periodic Review — a human rights process to which all countries are subjected on  rotating basis — the Leitner Center provided a stakeholder submission focusing on the rights of marginalized migrants in Hong Kong. This will be the fourth cycle of review for China; the Leitner Center previously submitted a report for China’s review in 2018.

While civic space in general in Hong Kong has been decreasing since the introduction of the National Security Law (NSL) in 2020, marginalized groups are especially vulnerable to limits on fundamental rights. The Leitner Center’s submission focuses on marginalized migrants, specifically: migrant domestic workers (MDWs), people seeking international protection (refugees/ non-refoulement claimants), detained migrants, and children of migrant backgrounds.

This submission was based on consultation with key stakeholders on the ground in Hong Kong, and will expand on its findings in a forthcoming report: Unseen Struggles: Addressing Migrant Rights in Hong Kong.

The Leitner Center urges states to focus on the following key recommendations during China’s UPR for implementation in Hong Kong:

  • Migrant Domestic Workers: Reform employment regulations to eliminate the “two-week” rule and “live-in” rule, align minimum hourly wage for MDWs with other workers, raise the minimum allowable wage and food allowance to adequate levels, and eliminate any requirements that prevent MDWs from leaving abusive employers or restrict their access to financial services. 
  • Refugees / non-refoulement claimants: Recognize and protect people fleeing persecution as asylum seekers and refugees by extending application of the 1951 Refugee Convention and 1967 Protocol to Hong Kong, and granting protection, residence permits, and other rights in accordance with international law. 
  • Migrant detention: Introduce a time limit on immigration detention in line with international standards; establish robust monitoring mechanisms to safeguard detainee rights; implement community-based alternatives to immigration detention; and prohibit detention of people at heightened risks of harm or prolonged arbitrary immigration detention, including children, pregnant women, survivors of trafficking or torture, LGBTQI+ individuals, and stateless people.  
  • Migrant children: Grant residence permits to asylum-seeking and refugee children; reform laws which contribute to children of migrant domestic workers being separated from their mothers; ensure all migrant children can access essential support, appropriate education, and all their rights under the Convention on the Rights of the Child and other international law.  

The UPR is set for early 2024. States are gathering in Geneva next week for the pre-session to the review.

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