Curb on forgery of abode papers

PUBLISHED : Friday, 22 March, 2002, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 22 March, 2002, 12:00am

New bail documents with improved security features are being issued to unsuccessful right-of-abode claimants to guard against forgeries in the run-up to the operation to remove them next month.

The move was revealed yesterday as more than 60 losing abode seekers were asked to report back on their bail on April 1, when they are expected to be the first batch of claimants to be removed.

An Immigration Department spokesman said they started replacing the old bail document with the new one on February 25 and that the replacement exercise for the 7,000 mainlanders stranded in Hong Kong would be completed this week.

He said the new document could better guard against forgeries and make the removal operation easier. The first forged bail document, or recognisance letter, was reported in October last year and 35 have been found so far, the spokesman said.

The introduction of the new document was not prompted by the removal operation but was part of the department's regular review of documents it issued, he said.

Deputy Secretary for Security Michael Wong Wai-lun urged the losing abode seekers yesterday not to waste their time but to return to the mainland. He insisted there would be no amnesties and those staying beyond March 31 would be removed.

The Government's firm stance drew anger from parents of abode seekers, who blocked one of the entrances to the Central Government Offices after the meeting.

Father Franco Mella, who has been taking part in a hunger strike with 100 abode seekers since Sunday, urged Chief Executive Tung Chee-hwa to meet the claimants. A Court of Final Appeal ruling on January 10 dismissed most of the 5,114 appellants' claims to right of abode.

The Government yesterday submitted a draft order to the Court of Final Appeal confirming the status of 3,500 abode seekers who do not enjoy right of abode under the ruling.

On Wednesday, the court ordered that no abode seekers should be deported within seven days after a formal court order was approved.