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  • Dec 21, 2014
  • Updated: 3:01am
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Marchers call for fairer treatment of refugees in Hong Kong

Marchers demanding fairer treatment for refugees under UN convention accuse the government of psychological torture

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 31 October, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 31 October, 2012, 4:09am

Protesters accused Hong Kong bureaucrats of inflicting "psychological torture" on refugees seeking protection under a UN convention.

In a demonstration organised by the NGO Vision First, about 300 people marched from Central to the government headquarters in Admiralty carrying banners calling the city a "prison without walls".

They delivered a petition demanding fairer and more humane treatment for refugees to the Legislative Council and the Director of Immigration.

In 1992 Hong Kong signed the 1984 UN Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (CAT), under which the city agreed to not expel anyone back to a country where they might be tortured.

Yet since 1992, only one of about 11,900 claims have been accepted by the Hong Kong government, according to Director of Immigration Philip Leung Kin-hung. All other claims have been rejected or are currently being processed.

Vision First executive director Cosmo Beatson said: "Facts lead us to believe that the current CAT system does not reflect a protection policy, but rather a rejection mechanism."

He added: "Hong Kong can at least be upfront about it instead of putting up a façade of respecting the rule of law. That creates false hope."

As well as protesting against the "zero per cent recognition rate", marchers also complained about what they called intolerable conditions inside the city's immigration detention facilities.

Claimants can be detained for overstaying after a claim is rejected and 115 are currently in detention, according to an Immigration Department spokesman.

One protester, Nishan, 30, said he was brutally beaten in Sri Lanka before fleeing to Hong Kong in 2004. He served two detention sentences, of 10 months in total, after his torture claim was rejected by the Immigration Department.

Released from the Castle Peak Bay Immigration Centre detention facility in August, he is now awaiting a judicial review.

"I was running a restaurant in Sri Lanka, and politicians kept coming to eat and refusing to pay. When I asked for payment, they beat me and threatened to kill me," he said.

"The Hong Kong government assumes we're lying, so they detain us instead of protecting us … but I wouldn't have left my family at home if I had not needed to."

Human rights lawyer Mark Daly said Hong Kong should not use detention as a tactic to deter people from coming to the city.

"The United Nations has put out guidelines on detention that said it should generally not be used. The numbers [of claimants] in Hong Kong is small, so there's no need for it [here]," he said.

After Hong Kong rejects them, claimants have little chance of finding refuge elsewhere, he said.

"It would be difficult for them to get a visa if they have a removal or deportation order from Hong Kong," he said.

An Immigration Department spokesman said it had introduced an enhanced screening mechanism for torture claims in December 2009.

"Under the enhanced mechanism, claimants are given every reasonable opportunity to establish their claims," he said.


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This article is now closed to comments

Did some more research.
I don't think Joanna Chiu's information is correct.
There were not 11,900 asylum claims lodged since 1992, but torture claims.
Since Hong Kong is not bound by the 1951 Geneva Convention Geneva Conventions or the Protocol Relating to the Status of Refugees, Hong Kong is not bound to consider asylum claims.
I am sorry - calling yourself seeking refuge hk, yet providing no convincing facts to demonstrate your accusations.
But you got me intrigued. So I googled it.
Wikipedia: Hong-Kong has no domestic legislation to determine the fate of asylum seekers. Though China is a signatory of the 1951 Geneva Convention Geneva Conventions or the Protocol Relating to the Status of Refugees (The Refugee Convention [3]), Hong-Kong even after the 1997 handover is not bound to these treaties.
Guess what. Not bound to these treaties!!
Note: China is a signatory.
Why didn't you guys go north across the boundary and seek refuge in Mainland China?
Just wondering.
Mr.Ben Ho. no wonder you googled it and you got that facts from Wikipedia this goes to suggest that you are still ignorant about what you are arguing regarding your so called Wikipedia information about refuges in HK we are now telling you officially that, you are directly dealing with real victims and therefore, we are demanding face to face debate with you and your so called Wikipedia research group because, you dont have facts to defend yourself. however for your information, your Wikipedia should not be relied upon for any points to be used in facing people like us because we deal with pragmatic approaches when it comes to issues of asylum seekers and refuges .
Please just a reminder the door is still open for you to acquire the CERTIFICATE of KNOWING BETTER from the institute of asylum seekers that is www.seekingrefuge.hk OR Visit the VISION FIRST website for your educational materials.
I don't need your certificate of knowing better. Thank you.
But do educate me here.
Is what I quoted above from Wikipedia untrue?
Is Hong Kong bound to the 1951 Geneva Convention Geneva Conventions or the Protocol Relating to the Status of Refugees?
MR. BEN HO, when are you going to have in service training for you to be updated about Asylum seekers issues ? The only institution that can offer you such training are SEEKING REFUGE.HK AND VISION FIRST the admission is FREE lunch would be provided including transportation and you be acquiring CERTIFICATE of KNOWING BETTER.
According to Mr. BEN HO's, comment QUOTE !!! all CAT CLAIMANTS are fake: This shows that you totally IGNORANT about what is going on in your own CITY this also shows that you don't have the facts, Next time do your own research but not relying on what has been said by the director of the immigration and also, remember that the director of immigration tried to defend himself out of shame.
To: ben.ho.52012.,
with all respect, this is a comments from really CAT CLAIMERS in Hong Kong No wonder u have never experience what we have been going through ) PLEASE SHOW SOME SENSE OF HUMANITY if this comments are not enough for you, we can arrange debate 101 on AIR between MR. BEN HO Vs ASYLUM SEEKERS/ CAT CLAIMERS .........wait for our next comment
I hope you understand that every coin has two sides. Of course, all claimants say their claims are true. Just saying that your claim is true is not a convincing case at all.
What in the system is flawed? Not mentioned in the article.
I am making this comment for your own good - please try to make a convincing case. Otherwise, you won't get much support.
Good luck.
And detaining only 115 of 11900 of them is very generous... only less than 1%! How can "Human rights lawyer Mark Daly" say it is a tactic to deter people from coming to the city? Just wondering.
If all claims are fake stories then the success rate would be low. Simple as that.
And I don't understand this reporter. "Yet since 1992, only one of about 11,900 claims have been accepted by the Hong Kong government, according to Director of Immigration Philip Leung Kin-hung. All other claims have been rejected or are currently being processed." If some other claims are currently being processed, how can you conclude that only one of them will be accepted in the end?
In fact I think the Immigration Department has not done enough to arrest people doing illegal work in HK. Proliferating now.



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