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Human rights practices in Macau - 2003
U.S. Department of State
China Country Reports on Human Rights Practices - 2003
Released by the Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor - February 25, 2004
Macau, a 13 square mile enclave on the south China coast, reverted from Portuguese to Chinese administration on December 20, 1999 (the handover). As a Special Administrative Region (SAR) of the People's Republic of China (PRC), Macau enjoys a high degree of autonomy except in defense and foreign affairs, and its citizens have basic freedoms and enjoy legally protected rights. The 1987 Sino-Portuguese Joint Declaration and the Basic Law (the SAR's mini-constitution promulgated by China's National People's Congress (NPC) in March 1993) specify that Macau is to continue to enjoy substantial autonomy, and that its economic system and way of life are to remain unchanged for the first 50 years under PRC sovereignty. The Government is led by a Chief Executive, chosen by a 200-member Selection Committee, which was in turn chosen by a Preparatory Committee composed of 60 Macau and 40 mainland representatives appointed by the NPC. In 2001, voters elected 10 of the legislature's 27 members in direct elections in geographical constituencies. Interest groups in functional constituencies elected 10 others, and the Chief Executive appointed the remaining 7. There are limits on the types of bills that may be initiated by individual members of the legislature. After the handover, most of the laws in force continued to apply. The law provides for an independent judiciary, and the Government respected this provision in practice.
The civilian authorities maintained effective control of the police force. After peaking in 1999, serious organized crime-related violence has since been curbed. A People's Liberation Army (PLA) garrison of 800 soldiers played no role in internal security.
The market-based economy was fueled by textile and garment exports, along with tourism and gambling. The economy grew approximately 13.4 percent during the year. Per capita gross domestic product was approximately $15,355. The population in 2002 was 441,600.
The Government generally respected the human rights of its citizens; however, there were problems in some areas. These problems included the limited ability of citizens to change their government; limits on the legislature's ability to initiate legislation; inadequate provision for persons with disabilities; and a lack of legal protection for strikes and collective bargaining rights.
RESPECT FOR HUMAN RIGHTS
Section 1 Respect for the Integrity of the Person, Including Freedom From:
a. Arbitrary or Unlawful Deprivation of Life
There were no reports of arbitrary or unlawful deprivations of life committed by the Government or its agents.
There were no reports of suspicious deaths in custody. The Public Prosecutions Office's investigation of a 2002 death in custody was still pending at year's end.
There were no reports of politically motivated disappearances.
c. Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman, or Degrading Treatment or Punishment
The law prohibits such practices, and the Government generally respected these provisions in practice. There were no reports of police brutality during the year. In 2002, two officers allegedly assaulted two Hong Kong journalists who sought to enter Macau to cover the visit of Li Peng, then-Chairman of the NPC. In July, the Public Security Police closed its investigation of the alleged incident, concluding that there was no substantial evidence of any violations.
Prison conditions met international standards. As of September, the prison population was 884 (including male and female inmates), almost two-thirds of whom were from the PRC. At year's end, Macau and the PRC had not reached an agreement on prisoner transfers. Female prisoners were housed separately from male prisoners; juveniles were housed separately from adults; and pretrial detainees were separated from convicted prisoners.
The Government permits prison visits by human rights monitors, but there were no such visits during the year.
Arbitrary Arrest, Detention, or Exile
The law prohibits arbitrary arrest and detention, and the Government generally observed these prohibitions. An examining judge, who conducts a pretrial inquiry in criminal cases, has a wide range of powers to collect evidence, order or dismiss indictments, and determine whether to release detained persons. Police must present persons remanded in custody to an examining judge within 48 hours of detention. The accused person's counsel may examine the evidence. The law provides that cases must come to trial within 6 months of an indictment. The estimated average length of pretrial incarceration was 3 to 6 months. Judges often refused bail in cases where sentences exceeded 3 years.
The locally controlled Public Security Police was an effective, well-disciplined force. The Commission Against Corruption acted to preclude problems with corruption.
e. Denial of Fair Public Trial
The law provides for an independent judiciary, and the Government generally respected this provision in practice. According to the Basic Law, the courts have the power of final adjudication over all cases that are within the autonomy of the SAR. The courts also may rule on matters that are "the responsibility of the Central People's Government or concern the relationship between the central authorities and the (Special Administrative) Region," but before making their final judgment (i.e., a judgment not subject to appeal), the court must seek an interpretation of the relevant provisions from the Standing Committee of the Chinese NPC. When the Standing Committee makes an interpretation of the provisions concerned, the courts, in applying those provisions "shall follow the interpretation of the Standing Committee." The Standing Committee must consult the NPC's Committee for the Basic Law of the SAR before giving an interpretation of the law. This Committee is composed of 10 members, 5 from the SAR and 5 from the mainland. The Chief Executive, the President of the Legislative Assembly, and the President of the Court of Final Appeal nominate the SAR members.
Article 9 of the Basic Law provides for the use of Portuguese, in addition to Chinese, as an official language by the executive authorities, legislature, and judiciary. The need to translate laws and judgments from Portuguese, and a severe shortage of local bilingual lawyers and magistrates, has hampered development of the legal system. At year's end, 96 lawyers were registered with the Macau Lawyers Association. Of those who registered their language speaking ability with the Association, 9 spoke Mandarin, and 22 spoke Cantonese. The Association registered 30 trainee-lawyers. The Government instituted a rigorous postgraduate training program for magistrates who received legal training outside of the SAR. The judiciary was relatively inexperienced (the first law school opened in the early 1990s), and the lack of locally trained lawyers has been a serious impediment to the administration of justice.
According to the Basic Law, the Chief Executive appoints judges at all levels, acting on the recommendation of an independent commission, which he appoints, composed of local judges, lawyers, and "eminent persons." The Basic Law stipulates that judges must be chosen on the basis of their professional qualifications. According to the law, judges may be removed only for criminal acts or an inability to discharge their functions. Except for the Chief Justice, who must be a Chinese citizen with no right of abode elsewhere, judges may be foreigners.
There are four courts: the Primary Court (with general jurisdiction at first instance); the Administrative Court (with jurisdiction of first instance in administrative disputes); the Court of Second Instance; and the Court of Final Appeal.
The law provides for the right to a fair trial, and the judiciary generally enforced this right. By law, trials are open to the public, except when publicity could cause great harm to the dignity of the persons, to public morals, or to the normal development of the trial. A decision to close off a trial must be revoked if those factors cease to exist, and the verdict must always be delivered in public. The Criminal Procedure Code provides for an accused person's right to be present during proceedings and to choose an attorney or request that one be provided at government expense. The 1997 Organized Crime Ordinance provides that "certain procedural acts may be held without publicity and that witness statements read in court are admissible as evidence." There also are additional restrictions on the granting of bail and suspended sentences in organized crime cases.
The judiciary provides citizens with a fair and efficient judicial process, but the average waiting period between the filing of a civil case and its scheduled hearing was nearly 12 months. That time was reduced slightly during the year. Since 1991, all legislation has been issued simultaneously in Chinese and Portuguese. Pre-existing laws are required to be translated into Chinese, and those issued between 1976 and 1991 have been translated.
The Public Prosecutions Office (headed by a Public Prosecutor General) enjoys substantial autonomy from both the executive and the judiciary. The Basic Law stipulates that the Public Prosecutions Office's functions must be carried out without interference, and the law was respected.
There were no reports of political prisoners.
f. Arbitrary Interference with Privacy, Family, Home, or Correspondence
The law prohibits such actions, and the Government generally respected these prohibitions in practice. A judge's authorization is required for any official interference in these areas. Any evidence obtained by means of wrongful interference in private life, home, correspondence, or telecommunications, without the consent of the concerned person, may not be used in court.
Section 2 Respect for Civil Liberties, Including:
a. Freedom of Speech and Press
The law provides for freedom of speech and of the press, and the Government generally respected these rights in practice. Local law also protects citizens' right to petition the Government and the legislature.
The print media included eight Chinese-language dailies, three Portuguese-language dailies, one Portuguese-language weekly, and six Chinese-language weeklies. There were three television networks. Macau Radio broadcast in both Portuguese and Chinese (Cantonese and Mandarin). Hong Kong and international newspapers were widely available. The dominant newspapers, mainly Chinese-language, were sympathetic to official Chinese positions in their editorial line, while some of the Portuguese-language press published articles critical of mainland policies, such as those regarding Tibet and Falun Gong. The Union for Democracy Development Macau (UDDM), a nongovernmental organization (NGO) headed by pro-democracy legislators, charged that the main papers did not give equal attention to liberal and pro-democracy voices. At least three leading daily newspapers and a leading Hong Kong daily newspaper sold in Macau provided extensive coverage of pro-democracy activities. The reversion to PRC sovereignty has produced no apparent restrictions of press freedom. The press regularly published articles critical of the government, with opinion columns often directly criticizing government officials.
Article 23 of the Basic Law obliges the SAR to enact legislation that would forbid any act of treason, secession, sedition, subversion against the Central People's Government, or theft of state secrets, and links of the foregoing nature that are harmful to national security with foreign political organizations. In 2002, the Government announced that it was working on draft legislation for the Article 23 national security law that would undergo a period of public consultation and then be submitted to the Legislative Assembly. In November, the Chief Executive stated that his administration would not propose Article 23 legislation until the next chief executive term, which begins in 2006. The UDDM voiced concern that when enacted these laws and other provisions passed to implement Article 23 may restrict fundamental rights and freedoms.
Particular concern has been raised regarding the Penal Code's lack of specific sentences for such crimes. A legal vacuum was created when a Portuguese law dealing with crimes against state security became null and void after the handover.
There were no government-imposed limits on Internet access.
The Government did not restrict academic freedom.
b. Freedom of Peaceful Assembly and Association
The law provides for freedom of assembly, and the Government generally respected this right in practice. Under local law, individuals and groups intending to hold peaceful meetings or demonstrations in public places are required to notify the president of the relevant municipal council in writing at least 3 days, but no more than 2 weeks, in advance of the event. No prior authorization is necessary for the event to take place. Local law also provides criminal penalties for government officials who unlawfully impede or attempt to impede the right of assembly and for counter-demonstrators who interfere in meetings or demonstrations.
The law provides for freedom of association, and the Government generally respected this right in practice. The law neither provides for, nor prohibits establishment of, political parties. Under the Societies Ordinance, persons can establish "political organizations," of which a few existed, including the pro-democracy New Democratic Macau Society, headed by a legislator. Both civic associations and candidates' committees may present candidates in the elections by direct or indirect suffrage (see Section 3). Article 23 of the Basic Law obliges the Macau SAR to enact laws to prohibit foreign political organizations from establishing ties with domestic political organizations or bodies. At year's end, the Government had not enacted any legislation on Article 23 (see Section 2.a.).
Falun Gong practitioners were allowed to continue their exercises and demonstrations in public parks.
c. Freedom of Religion
The Basic Law provides for freedom of conscience and religious belief as well as freedom to preach and to conduct and participate in religious activities. The Freedom of Religion Ordinance provides for freedom of religion, privacy of religious belief, freedom of religious assembly, freedom to hold religious processions, and freedom of religious education. The SAR Government generally respected these rights in practice. There is no state religion.
The Religious Freedom Ordinance requires the registration of religious organizations, which is done by the Identification Services Office. There have been no reports of discrimination in the registration process.
Practitioners of Falun Gong (a spiritual movement that does not consider itself a religion) have not applied for registration. The Identification Services Office has not issued any instructions regarding the Falun Gong, and senior SAR Government officials have reaffirmed that practitioners of Falun Gong may continue their legal activities without government interference (see Section 2.b.). According to Falun Gong practitioners, the police occasionally observed their exercises and checked their identification.
Religious bodies can apply to use electronic media to preach and may maintain and develop relations with religious groups abroad.
Missionaries are free to conduct missionary activities and were active in the SAR. In 2002, more than 30,000 children were enrolled in Catholic schools.
The Catholic Church recognizes the Pope as its head. In January, the head of the Macau Diocese received the Government's second-highest decoration for his contributions to social progress. In June, a new coadjutor Bishop, appointed by the Holy See, took over the Macau Diocese. Editorials in the local Catholic newspaper noted this as an example of the Government's independence and respect for religious freedom as provided for in the Basic Law.
For a more detailed discussion, see the 2003 International Religious Freedom Report.
d. Freedom of Movement, Foreign Travel, Emigration, and Repatriation
The law provides for these rights, and the Government generally respected them in practice. Some 110,000 residents hold Portuguese European Union passports, while an increasing number hold Macau SAR passports that allow visa-free entry to many countries, including EU member states. Most residents also hold special permits that allow travel to and from the mainland. There is a separate pass for travel to and from Hong Kong.
On October 17, the authorities reportedly barred at least two Hong Kong activists from entering the SAR during a visit by PRC Vice-President Zeng Qinghong. A government spokesman refused to confirm the incident but said that the SAR "has the right to deny entry of anyone suspected of having the intention to create trouble here."
The law provides for the granting of refugee status or asylum to persons who meet the definition in the 1951 U.N. Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees or its 1967 Protocol. In practice, the Government provides protection against refoulement and grants refugee status or asylum. There was one refugee case during the year; the Migration Department cooperated with the U.N High Commissioner for Refugees in handling it.
In 2002, the SAR enacted the Internal Security Legal Framework, which allows the Government to refuse entry or expel any non-resident considered inadmissible or constituting a threat to internal security, or suspected of having a relationship with transnational crime or terrorism.
Between January and July, 319 illegal migrants were returned to the mainland, of whom 76 were male and 243 female. In that same period, 4,073 overstayers (1,060 males and 3,013 females) were returned to the mainland.
Section 3 Respect for Political Rights: The Right of Citizens to Change Their Government
The ability of citizens to change their government is restricted. The Government is led by a Chief Executive, chosen by a 200-member Selection Committee, which was in turn chosen by a 100-member Preparatory Committee, composed of 60 Macau and 40 mainland representatives appointed by the NPC of the People's Republic of China. The 27-member Legislative Assembly elected in 2001 is composed of 10 members elected in direct elections; 10 indirectly elected by local community interests such as business, labor, professional, welfare, cultural, educational, and sports associations; and 7 appointed by the Chief Executive. Prior to the 2001 elections, the Legislative Assembly was composed of 8 members elected directly, 12 elected indirectly, and 7 that were appointed. Elections are held every 4 years and the number of legislators is to increase gradually in subsequent elections. In 2005, the number of directly elected seats is to be increased to 12 (with 10 elected indirectly and 7 appointed). After 2009, the rules on the Assembly's composition may be altered by a two-thirds majority of the total membership and with the approval of the Chief Executive, who has veto power. The Basic Law does not provide for universal suffrage or for direct election of either the legislature or the Chief Executive.
There are limits on the types of legislation that legislators may introduce. Article 75 of the Basic Law stipulates that legislators may not initiate legislation related to public expenditure, the SAR's political structure, or the operation of the Government. Bills relating to government policies must receive the written approval of the Chief Executive before they are submitted.
A 10-member Executive Council functions as an unofficial cabinet, approving all draft legislation before it is presented in the Legislative Assembly.
In 2002, a law transformed two provisional municipal councils into a new public body. Under the previous arrangement, a total of eight directly elected members sat on the two councils. The councils were responsible for culture, recreation, and public sanitation functions. Under the new system, the councils have been merged into a single public body, called the Institute for Civic and Municipal Affairs, with all of its members appointed by the Chief Executive. The Basic Law states, "municipal organizations are not organs of political power."
Five of the 27 Legislative Assembly members (3 directly elected, 1 indirectly elected, and 1 appointed), including the President of the Assembly, were women. Women held a number of senior positions throughout the Government. The Secretary for Justice and Administration on the Executive Council was a woman.
Section 4 Governmental Attitude Regarding International and Nongovernmental Investigation of Alleged Violations of Human Rights
Domestic human rights groups functioned without government restriction, investigating and publishing their findings on human rights. Local human rights groups, such as the Macau Association for the Rights of Laborers, and the New Democratic Macau Association, continued to operate.
International human rights agreements that formerly were applicable to Macau were approved by the Sino-Portuguese Joint Liaison Group and continued to apply to the SAR. In addition, the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights is subsumed in the Basic Law.
During the first 8 months of the year, the Commission Against Corruption received 732 complaints against public officials in a variety of agencies. The Commission opened 58 files, of which 53 were criminal cases and 5 were administrative grievances. The Commission transferred seven cases to the Public Prosecutions Office. A monitoring body established to review complaints of maladministration or abuse by the Commission received two complaints during the year.
Section 5 Discrimination Based on Race, Sex, Disability, Language, or Social Status
The Basic Law stipulates that residents shall be free from discrimination, irrespective of their nationality, descent, race, sex, language, religion, political persuasion, ideological belief, educational level, economic status, or social condition. In addition, many local laws carry specific prohibitions against discrimination. For example, under the law that establishes the general framework for the educational system, access to education is stipulated for all residents regardless of race, religious belief, or political or ideological convictions.
The Government enforces criminal statutes prohibiting domestic violence and prosecutes violators. Police and court statistics did not distinguish between spousal abuse and other assault cases. If hospital treatment was required, a medical social worker counseled the victims of abuse and informed them about social welfare services. Until their complaints were resolved, victims of domestic violence may be provided public housing, but no facilities were reserved expressly for them.
Private and religious groups sponsored programs for victims of domestic violence. The Government supported and helped to fund these organizations and programs. The Bureau for Family Action was created by the Government as a subordinate body of the Department of Family and Community of the Social Welfare Institute. The Bureau helped women who have been victims of domestic violence, providing not only a safe place for them and their children, but also advice regarding legal actions against the perpetrators. In 2002, a special family counseling service performed an average of 150 family services per month, including receiving phone calls and conducting interviews. Two government-supported religious programs also offered rehabilitation programs for women who have been victims of violence. During the year, 11 cases of spousal abuse were reported to the Social Welfare Institute. Between January and July, the Office for Security Coordination received 128 reports of offenses against the physical integrity of female spouses. From January to July, the Government received 10 cases of sexual crimes against minors (under 16 years old) and 1 case of ill treatment. The law on rape covers spousal rape. During the year, there were seven reported rapes.
Prostitution is legal, but procuring is not. Although there was no reliable data regarding the number of persons involved, trafficking in women, for the purposes of prostitution, occurred (see Section 6.f.).
There is no law specifically addressing sexual harassment, although there is a law prohibiting harassment in general.
Women have become more active and visible in business. A Government survey indicated that, as of September, women comprised 46.7 percent of the labor force. Equal opportunity legislation that is applicable to all public and private organizations mandates that women receive equal pay for equal work, prohibits discrimination based on sex or physical ability, and establishes penalties for employers who violate these guidelines. There was wage discrimination in some sectors, notably construction. The equal opportunity legislation may be enforced by civil suits, but no cases alleging discrimination have been brought to court.
The Government is committed to protecting the rights and welfare of children. It does so by relying on the general framework of civil and political rights legislation to protect all citizens. For example, the Criminal Code provides for criminal punishment for sexual abuse of children and students, statutory rape, and procuring involving minors.
School attendance is compulsory for all children between ages 5 and 15 years. Basic education was provided in government-run schools and subsidized private schools, and covers the pre-primary year, primary education, and general secondary school education. The Education Department provided assistance to the families of those children that could not pay school fees. The children of illegal immigrants were excluded from the educational system. Experts believed only a few children are affected by this exclusion. The Government provided free medical care for all children. Child abuse and exploitation were not widespread problems. During the year, five cases of child abuse were reported to the Social Welfare Institute. Between January and July, 101 cases of offenses against the physical integrity of minors were reported, including 17 cases of family violence, to the Office for Security Coordination. From January to July, 4 cases of rape of minors and 3 cases of sexual abuse of minors were received.
Persons with Disabilities
There were no confirmed reports that persons with disabilities experienced discrimination in employment, education, or provision of state services. A 2001 census stated that there were 5,713 persons with disabilities in the SAR.
The Social Welfare Institute provided financial and rehabilitation assistance to persons with disabilities and helped to fund 5 residential facilities and 16 day centers providing services for the disabled. A few other special programs existed, aimed at helping persons with physical and mental disabilities gain better access to employment, education, and public facilities. Eleven NGOs providing services for persons with disabilities received regular assistance from the Social Welfare Institute and subsidies from other governmental departments. Fifteen schools had programs for persons with disabilities, providing special education programs for 801 students.
In 2002, a law was enacted mandating improved accessibility for persons with reduced mobility to public administration buildings, buildings open to the public, collective dwellings, and pavements. The Government's Social Security fund may grant subsidies for the elimination of architectural barriers to facilitate access by persons with a physical or behavioral disability.
Although no specific laws prohibit discrimination on the basis of racial or ethnic background, the rights of ethnic minorities, particularly the Macanese (Eurasians who comprise roughly 2 percent of the population) were respected. Although Portuguese officials no longer dominated the civil service, the government bureaucracy and the legal system placed a premium on knowledge of the Portuguese language, which was spoken by less than 2 percent of the population. The Chinese language has official status and the use of Chinese in the civil service grew.
Section 6 Worker Rights
a. The Right of Association
The Government neither impeded the formation of trade unions nor discriminated against union members. The Basic Law stipulates that international labor conventions that applied before the handover shall remain in force and are to be implemented through the laws of the SAR. The UDDM expressed concern that local law does not have explicit provisions against anti-union discrimination.
Nearly all of the private sector unions were part of the pro-China Federation of Trade Unions (FTU), and tended to stress the importance of stability and minimum disruption of the work force. The UDDM and some local journalists have claimed that the FTU was more interested in providing social and recreational services than in addressing trade union issues such as wages, benefits, and working conditions. In 2002, there were six independent private sector unions and two independent public sector unions. All classes of workers have the right to join a union.
Unions may freely form federations and affiliate with international bodies.
b. The Right to Organize and Bargain Collectively
The Government did not impede or discourage collective bargaining, but there is no specific statutory protection for this right since Portuguese laws that protected collective bargaining no longer apply. Market forces determined wages. Unions tended to resemble local traditional neighborhood associations, promoting social and cultural activities rather than issues relating to the workplace. Local customs normally favored employment without the benefit of written labor contracts, except in the case of migrant labor from China and the Philippines. Pro-China unions traditionally have not attempted to engage in collective bargaining.
There is no specific protection in local law from retribution should workers exercise their right to strike. The Government has argued that striking employees are protected from retaliation by labor law provisions that require an employer to have "justified cause" to dismiss an employee, and the Government enforced these provisions. Strikes, rallies, and demonstrations are not permitted in the vicinity of the Chief Executive's office, the Legislative Assembly, and other key government buildings. Though there was at least one protest, there were no work stoppages or strikes during the year.
In July, the Labor and Employment Bureau completed mediation in the resolution of a yearlong dispute between a casino company and a group of casino employees disgruntled over the terms of a new employment contract that came into effect when the casino company reorganized in 2002. The casino company agreed to pay the workers for unpaid holidays, leave, and outstanding allowances.
Workers who believe that they have been dismissed unlawfully may bring a case to court or lodge a complaint with the Labor Department or the High Commissioner against Corruption and Administrative Illegality, who also functions as an ombudsman.
There are no export processing zones.
c. Prohibition of Forced or Compulsory Labor
The law prohibits forced or compulsory labor, including by children, and there were no reports that such practices occurred.
d. Status of Child Labor Practices and Minimum Age for Employment
The law prohibits minors under the age of 16 from working, although minors between the ages of 14 and 16 can be authorized to work on an "exceptional basis." Some children reportedly worked in family-run businesses and on fishing vessels, usually during summer and winter vacations. Local laws do not establish specific regulations governing the number of hours these children can work, but International Labor Organization conventions are applied. The Labor Department enforced the law through periodic and targeted inspections, and violators were prosecuted. The Labor Department Inspectorate did not conduct inspections specifically aimed at enforcing child labor laws, but it issued summonses when such violations were discovered in the course of other workplace inspections. No instances of child labor were reported during the year.
e. Acceptable Conditions of Work
Local labor laws establish the general principle of fair wages and mandate compliance with wage agreements, but there is no mandatory minimum wage. Average wages generally provided a decent standard of living for a worker and family. There were no publicly administered social security programs, but some large companies provide private welfare and security packages.
Labor legislation provides for a 48-hour workweek, an 8-hour workday, paid overtime, annual leave, and medical and maternity care. Although the law provides for a 24-hour rest period for every 7 days of work, worker representatives reported that workers frequently agreed to work overtime to compensate for low wages. The Labor Department provided assistance and legal advice to workers on request.
The Labor Department enforces occupational safety and health regulations, and failure to correct infractions can lead to prosecution. In 2002, the Labor Department inspectorate carried out 3,243 inspections and uncovered 3,356 violations carrying fines worth $293,460 (2,289,000 Patacas). There were eight work-related death cases in 2002. Although the law includes a requirement that employers provide a safe working environment, no explicit provisions protect employees' right to continued employment if they refuse to work under dangerous conditions.
Migrant workers, primarily from China, made up approximately 11.7 percent of the work force. These workers often worked for less than half of the wages paid to local residents performing the same job, lived in controlled dormitories, worked 10 to 12 hours per day, and owed large sums of money to a labor-importing company for the purchase of their jobs. They have no collective bargaining rights and no legal recourse in the case of unfair dismissal. Labor interests claimed that the high percentage of foreign labor eroded the bargaining power of local residents to improve working conditions and increase wages.
Due to high unemployment, the Government has reduced the amount of foreign non-resident labor to give job priority to local residents. In August, the Government ordered the expulsion of 23 illegal workers at a foreign company's casino construction site.
f. Trafficking in Persons
Trafficking in persons is a crime established and punished under Article 7 of the Law on Organized Crime. The penalty for the crime of trafficking in persons is 2 to 8 years' imprisonment. This penalty is increased by one-third (within minimum and maximum limits) if the victim is under the age of 18 years. If the victim is under 14 years old, the penalty is 5 to 15 years' imprisonment. In a case where the victim is raped by the trafficker, the two offenses are treated as different crimes.
Prostitution is not a crime, but living off the proceeds of prostitution is a crime. Prostitutes primarily were from Russia, mainland China, and Vietnam. While most were believed to be witting participants in the commercial sex industry, there were 15 cases of women who complained of being brought to Macau under false pretences, and 7 complaints of abuse, in 2002.
There were no government assistance programs in place for victims of trafficking. There were no local NGOs specifically dealing with the problem of trafficking; however, there were charitable organizations that provided assistance and shelter to women and children who were the victims of abuse.
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