Immigration officials acted lawfully

PUBLISHED : Friday, 28 June, 2002, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 28 June, 2002, 12:00am

I refer to Tim Hamlett's column headlined 'Shame on a system that ignores suffering' (South China Morning Post, June 20), which was about a couple who surrendered to the Immigration Department after staying in Hong Kong illegally for 20 years.

The remarks insinuating impropriety in our handling of the case are objectionable.

We act lawfully and follow strictly the gazetted 'Rules and Directions for the Questioning of Suspects and the Taking of Statements'. Every person may consult privately with a solicitor or barrister at any stage of an investigation.

All suspects are cautioned before a statement is taken.

Those prosecuted with such offences as remaining illegally and using the identity cards of other people, have access to legal services provided under the Duty Lawyer Scheme. The case in question was no exception.

Mr Hamlett said that the couple had contributed to society by working for very low pay. I find his opinion disturbing. However sympathetic towards them one might be, the fact remains that the proceedings against them were instituted in accordance with the law and the offences they pleaded guilty to are serious, carrying prison sentences ranging from three to 10 years.


for Director of Immigration