Judge calls off injunction on shelter for pregnant asylum seeker

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 29 March, 2014, 2:58am
UPDATED : Saturday, 29 March, 2014, 2:58am

A High Court judge yesterday refused to continue an interim injunction to compel welfare providers for asylum seekers to arrange and pay for urgent accommodation for a pregnant Nepali woman who became homeless last week.

In the Court of First Instance, Mr Justice Thomas Au Hing-cheung said Lama Inu and her husband Laxman Chadaro failed to show substantial evidence that the International Social Service Hong Kong (ISS) and the Social Welfare Department would not have provided assistance to them and their 18-month-old son without such an injunction.

The judge stressed that it had been Lama's decision to reject help from the ISS and the Social Welfare Department by cutting off communication with them.

Last Friday, Mr Justice Peter Ng Kar-fai granted an urgent interim injunction ordering the two agencies to arrange and pay for the family's accommodation after they said they were locked out of their flat by their landlord after ISS failed to pay its rent.

Asylum seekers receive humanitarian assistance from the government to meet a minimum living standard. ISS pays rent of up to HK$1,500 a month.

Applying for continuation of the injunction, barrister Robert Tibbo, working voluntarily for Lama, said an order was necessary to ensure that the pregnant woman had a place to live.

Judge Au said ISS had been trying to contact Lama to offer help, but she had intentionally turned off her phone.

The judge referred to a statement by Lama, which showed that she had told an ISS officer she did not need help, saying her feelings had been hurt. She said that the officer had to "pay for what she did".

"It was her own intention and feeling that she did not want help at a time when she said she was homeless," the judge said.

"There is no evidence at all that she is now or will soon be without accommodation," he said, dismissing her application.

The two agencies asked for costs on an indemnity basis, arguing that Lama's application was hopeless and an abuse of process.

But the judge ordered only costs on a standard basis.