Reprieve for families

PUBLISHED : Monday, 24 April, 1995, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 24 April, 1995, 12:00am

THE Director of Immigration has granted a reprieve to three Vietnamese families about to be re-detained, allowing their lawyers to apply for a judicial review today.

Lawyers for the families worked over the weekend to beat a re-detention order issued by the Immigration Department last Friday which demanded the families' presence at Tai A Chau detention centre this morning.

The department responded to an application last week from lawyers Pam Baker and Rob Brook requesting a delay of one day to seek leave for the review by setting the application deadline at 5 pm today.

The reprieve holds out the possibility of freedom for the families as the application seeks an injunction against re-detention.

Mr Brook said yesterday re-detention of the 13 Vietnamese would go down in history as a black day for human rights in Hong Kong.

'The decision to re-detain these people while there is an appeal pending is wrong for a whole variety of reasons - it would also go against the Hong Kong Bill of Rights,' he said.

'It is a fundamental human right to be free and the Director of Immigration must have a very good reason to detain these people again, something which he has not supplied.' A statement from the department last week on the decision to re-detain said it took into account the families' situation was no different position from that of the remaining 21,600 Vietnamese being detained.

The Appeal Court two weeks ago overturned a High Court ruling in January that the families were being detained unlawfully because Vietnam would not take them back.

The 13 Vietnamese were released in January on the basis that because Vietnam considered them to be non-nationals they would not be accepted for repatriation.