Deportation flights poser
By SCOTT McKENZIE
THE Government is leaving open an option to lump together several deportation flights of Vietnamese asylum-seekers to take up the slack of a six-month moratorium on forced departures.
There have been no Orderly Return Programme (ORP) flights since March because of delays arising out of the wait for findings on the controversial raid at the Whitehead detention centre on April 7 and a need to find monitoring teams for the flights.
Yesterday, a Government spokesman said it could not be ruled out that there could be increased ORP flights but refused to elaborate further.
However, it is understood that at least two flights are pencilled in for later this month now that the Government has finalised the issue of monitors for the camps.
Though there has been no official announcement, it is known that the Government has decided to appoint a coalition of Non-Government Organisations and Justices of the Peace to act as monitors.
Under an agreement with Vietnam, Hong Kong is allowed to deport about 60 people every six weeks under the ORP. Whether Vietnam would accept a lump of closely-grouped ORP flights has not been tested.
About 1,300 people began a hunger strike in the north camp of the High Island detention centre on Sunday to protest against Government threats that they should volunteer for repatriation or face being placed on the next ORP flights.
The north camp population is made up of the group who were the subject of the violent raid at Whitehead in April.