Accreditation status: C
The National Human Rights Institution in Hong Kong is the Hong Kong Equal Opportunities Commission(‘EOC’). The EOC is the statutory body tasked to implement the anti-discrimination ordinances in Hong Kong, namely the Sex Discrimination Ordinance, the Disability Discrimination Ordinance, the Family Status Discrimination Ordinance and the Race Discrimination Ordinance.
Who can access it?
A complaint can be made by anyone who is discriminated against in employment, provision of goods or services or disposal or management of premises on the basis of sex, marital status, pregnancy, disability, family status or race. A complaint can be lodged by an individual, a group of individuals, or any other body.
A complaint may also be lodged by an aggrieved party’s representative. In this case, the representative complainant must show that (s)he has been authorized by the aggrieved person to lodge the complaint. If the representative is not authorized, (s)he may still report the case to the EOC and the EOC may then decide to look into the matter independently.
Complaints cannot be made anonymously.
How does it work?
The complaint can be sent by mail, fax, email, made in person at the EOC Office or online. Complainants who have difficulty formulating their complaints in writing can be assisted by the EOC and the EOC officers who will help put the complaints in writing. The complaint form should contain all the relevant details of the alleged unlawful act in as much detail as possible including:
- Personal details and identity card number
- Proof of the relevant attribute (such as disability, marital status, pregnancy, family status, race, etc)
- Any supporting documents for the incident under complaint (such as employment contract, dismissal letter, correspondences with the organization involved in the incident, detriment/losses incurred from the incident, etc)
- Information identifying the respondent(s)
- The time of the incident(s)
- The place where the incident(s) took place
- A description of the incidents and why the complainant believes they were unlawful
- Any information in support of the complaint including names of witnesses (if any)
- Loss or harm experienced
- All relevant supporting documents
The EOC will then provide the opportunity for the respondent to respond to the complaint. Details of the complaint, including the name of the complainant and the allegation made, will be sent to the respondent.
The EOC may then provide good offices if the parties agree to attempt early conciliation. This process is voluntary and confidential.
If the parties do not agree to early conciliation then the EOC will investigate the complaint. This will include calling any relevant witnesses. After this investigation the EOC will provide its good offices for conciliation.
The EOC can reject a complaint at any time during its proceedings if it finds:
- The act complained of is not unlawful
- person aggrieved by the act does not desire that the investigation be conducted or continued
- a period of more than 12 months has elapsed beginning when the act was done
Complaints to the EOC may be made in parallel with proceedings in the District Court. Anyone can go to court directly and initiate civil proceedings under the law without going through the EOC.
Any breach of the confidentiality of the proceedings may lead to legal liability.
If the parties agree, then they are each bound by a legally binding conciliation agreement. The EOC can provide suggestions as to possible remedies to be included in this conciliation agreement. The complainant cannot instigate any further proceedings if they are party to this conciliation agreement.
There is no appeal process however, where the process does not result in a conciliation agreement, the complainant may apply to the EOC for legal assistance to address their complaints in the District Court.