Officials 'passed on personal details'

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 20 March, 2002, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 20 March, 2002, 12:00am

Security officials have been accused of abusing information provided by abode seekers by passing it on to government social workers who then tried to persuade them to give up and leave.

The Justice and Peace Commission of the Hong Kong Catholic Diocese said it had submitted the information to the Security Bureau on behalf of about 300 abode seekers as part of their plea for special discretion to be allowed to stay.

Project officer Jackie Hung Ling-yu said some claimants were later contacted by social workers who tried to persuade them to leave by telling them their dependent family members left behind would be looked after with welfare assistance.

'It's an abuse of the information. We did not ask that their cases be passed on to the Social Welfare Department. They are asking for right of abode, not welfare services,' Ms Hung said.

Some of the cases involved mainland children wanting to stay to care for their ill parents who were told there were elderly care homes available for them.

'The Government should not pass the burden of taking care of these elderly to society as they would best be taken care of by their own children,' Ms Hung said.

A Security Bureau spokesman said applications based on humanitarian grounds had been passed on to the Director of Immigration.

She said the Social Welfare Department had provided counselling to 92 abode seekers so far.

The 300 claimants who have submitted humanitarian pleas are among the 4,500 appellants who lost their abode bid in the Court of Final Appeal in January. Only about 500 people were successful.

The losing claimants have to leave before April 1. A total of 1,360 claimants had left by yesterday.

Two human rights groups have submitted a report to the United Nations Human Rights Commission, which is meeting in Geneva. It says the Government should use its discretionary powers to let the claimants stay.

Their move came as at least seven of 100 abode seekers who began a hunger strike on Sunday night were forced to withdraw after feeling unwell.




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