Macau’s weak domestic violence prevention efforts concern UN

The UN Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (CESCR) has expressed concerns over the city’s inadequate protection against domestic violence and high report rate.

The Committee met with the Macau, China delegation about the latter’s third regular report on the conditions of related topics.

“The Committee is concerned that the law on preventing and combating domestic violence does not cover same-sex couples, and about reports of its insufficient implementation in the context of a relatively high report rate with conversely proportionate low investigation and low prosecution rate,” the CESCR reported in its concluding observations.

In response, the Committee suggested local government review the law to include same-sex couples and “ensure its effective implementation by raising awareness and conduct-specific training for law enforcement agents and the prosecution service with a view to protecting all victims, bringing perpetrators to justice and preventing impunity.”

Coincidentally, the police yesterday announced another case of domestic violence involving a medical center’s male owner and his wife, whom he is divorcing. It was the third case of its kind announced within a month.

Contrary to the report’s comments, the government said “the Committee […] affirmed the [Macau] Government’s commitment to preventing and combating domestic violence.”

On labor rights, the Committee expressed concerns over the city’s lack of protection for strikes, collective negotiations and reprisal.

“[The] Committee is concerned that no legislation has been passed to regulate this right, and that the law does not provide for collective bargaining nor specific protection from retribution against workers who strike,” the report pointed out. “The Committee is also concerned that employers and the government are influencing certain unions.”

The Trade Union Bill is now with a parliamentary committee for detailed study. The Bill has been assigned to a committee presided over by businessperson Chan Chak Mo rather than trade unionist Ella Lei.

Therefore, the UN Committee suggested the government make laws that actually protect workers’ rights to form and join trade unions as well as their right to strike. Undue restrictions should be eliminated by legislation.

The UN sub-body specifically mentioned that Macau’s mini-constitution has provisions in this respect.

However, the government rebutted the statement, saying that both the Basic Law and the Labour Relations Law offer protections in the aforementioned respect. “The accusations are unfounded,” the government said.

The government pointed to the public consultation result for the Trade Union Bill to highlight “the lack of social consensus” for collective bargaining rights, omitting the fact that the Committee suggested that government “take all necessary measures to ensure that workers enjoy their trade union rights without undue restrictions or interference.”

Meanwhile, the UN Committee also criticized the government for exerting superfluous pressure on the medical system during the abrupt post-Covid-19 normalization. However, the government said the city had “in general smoothly overcome the sudden escalation of medical needs in late December last year.”

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