Deportees refuse food over delays

PUBLISHED : Monday, 02 June, 2008, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 02 June, 2008, 12:00am

About 50 detainees, mostly South Asians, refused food at an immigration centre in Tuen Mun yesterday to protest against deportation delays.

The Immigration Department said the detainees at the Castle Peak Bay centre were awaiting deportation after being convicted of criminal or immigration offences.

'The department arranges to send them back to their own countries as soon as possible. At present, about 390 detainees are being held at the centre,' a spokeswoman said.

'About 140 detainees did not collect food from officers on May 30, and 48 had refused to collect food from officers by 5.30pm on Sunday,' she said. 'The detainees have their own food to eat, and they just refuse to eat food prepared by officers.'

The department said no report of injury or sickness had been received, and the atmosphere inside the centre was peaceful.

The protest began on Wednesday with 18 people refusing to collect food from officers, and 16 joined the action the next day.

Hong Kong Human Rights Monitor director Law Yuk-kai said the government had faced the problem for nearly a decade.

'Some detainees have already served their sentences for crimes they committed, and they should be sent back to their own countries after doing their time,' he said. 'But some countries, which should take back their own citizens, are not very efficient and they are slow when handling administrative work.'

Mr Law urged the Hong Kong government to speed up deportations. 'The government should activate the deportation process on the day when a foreigner is given a jail sentence to allow the country concerned more time to do the paperwork required,' he said.

Society for Community Organisation director Ho Hei-wah urged the government to take the matter to a higher level and solve it through diplomacy.

'The SAR government should inform the central government about this problem and then request that Beijing negotiate with countries concerned,' he said.