Police search detention camp for weapons
By SCOTT McKENZIE
ABOUT 200 police searched the remote Tai A Chau Vietnamese detention centre for weapons yesterday.
The move was an attempt to prevent the use of homemade spears and knives against Correctional Services Department and police officers during deportations. Such incidents have occurred this year during deportations from High Island and Whitehead centres.
Last night police said only a handful of weapons were found. They included nets thought to have been intended for throwing over security officers.
Tai A Chau, said to be the most peaceful of the detention centres, is the only camp in Hong Kong to be secured by police rather than the Correctional Services Department.
It has been more than two years since detainees at Tai A Chau, which houses southern Vietnamese, have been targeted for deportation. It was not clear whether yesterday's search was a precursor to deportation.
A government report on the escape of 23 Vietnamese from the Green Island reception centre was released yesterday.
Some of the factors were: It was not a purpose-built detention facility and the ageing structure of the huts was vulnerable to deliberate tampering; Most of the escapees were double-backers (people who had been repatriated only to come back again) who had stayed there for a long time and were familiar with the overall conditions; The terrain of the centre created certain unavoidable blind spots for the staff on night duty.
The majority of the recaptured Vietnamese claimed they escaped because they had waited in Green Island for too long. Some also complained about the poor living conditions in the detention centre.
The report recommended expanded metal plates be placed on the seaward embankment and on accommodation walls.
It also recommended that Green Island be restricted to function as a quarantine centre for newly arrived Vietnamese.
Nineteen escapees have been recaptured.