Courts' decision on abode rights respected

PUBLISHED : Friday, 08 February, 2002, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 08 February, 2002, 12:00am

I refer to the letter by Lai Wing-yiu headlined 'Government sending mixed messages' (South China Morning Post, January 29), regarding my comments on 'abuse' of the judicial process by some right-of-abode claimants.

We fully respect the rule of law and the rights of individuals in seeking redress on adverse decisions made against them through judicial proceedings. That said, the Court of Final Appeal's judgment of December 3, 1999, did uphold that for mainland residents born to Hong Kong permanent residents, they need to obtain a certificate of entitlement affixed to an one-way exit permit to enter Hong Kong to exercise their right of abode. Many among thousands of these mainland residents, some of whom entered illegally and the majority having travelled as visitors on Two-way Permits, applied for leave for judicial review for the purpose of claiming right of abode soon after they arrived in Hong Kong. By that time they had made no application to the Immigration Department and we had made no decision against them whatsoever. Indeed, there was no decision to be judicially reviewed. The majority of them remain here as overstayers.

In fact, I know of concern groups giving advice to claimants to apply for leave for judicial reviews so as to prolong their stay in Hong Kong and resist repatriation. I would leave it for the general public to give some thought as to whether these acts would amount to abuse of process.


Director of Immigration