Police to look for more allegations of domestic helpers in Hong Kong being sent to work in mainland China
Force will liaise with Philippine and Indonesian consulates after latter claimed there were two to three cases a month of helpers being required to work illegally over the border
Hong Kong police will liaise with the city’s Indonesian and Philippines consulates to track down employers accused of sending their foreign domestic helpers to work in mainland China, according to force insiders.
The move comes as Indonesian Consul-General Tri Tharyat saidlast week he was aware of two to three cases a month on average over the past year of helpers being frequently taken across the border to work. Foreign domestic workers are required to work only at a designated address in Hong Kong under their contracts.
However, the Post was told that the city’s police have so far this year handled two cases – including the death of 20-year-old Filipino domestic helper Lorain Asuncion – and that there were another two similar reports last year.The force’s elite Organised Crime and Triad Bureau has been assigned to investigate.
On July 24, Asuncion’s family was told by an employment agency in Hong Kong that she had fallen to her death that day from the seventh floor of an apartment block in Shenzhen.
She was believed to have been sent to work at a relative’s home in Shenzhen by her employers, who were arrested for conspiracy to defraud last Thursday. They were released on bail while the police gathered evidence.
It was understood that this year’s other case was in the middle of legal proceedings and no prosecution was made in relation to either of last year’s cases due to lack of evidence.
One police source said there was no evidence to suggest the four cases were related no trend had been found of such malpractice by local employers.
“Up to now, there was no indication to suggest that there was a syndicate behind the four cases or the employment of the four helpers involved the same agency,” he said.
When asked to respond to the Indonesian Consul-General’s comments, the source said police would check with related consulates in the city. He also appealed to foreign domestic helpers’ unions and rights groups to contact police if they notified such malpractice.
But another source said it was possible some foreign domestic helpers who are being sent to work outside Hong Kong did not come forward because they might have been offered higher pay or feared they would lose their jobs.
Vice-consul Alex Vallespin at the Philippine consulate also called for more stringent measures, urging authorities to get to the bottom of Asuncion’s case.
“We are still investigating whether it is a suicide or an accident,” another source said. It was also being investigated whether the woman fell down while cleaning windows.
Rights groups have spoken out at a growing trend of employers putting their helpers to work outside the city, breaching contracts requiring them to work only at a designated address in Hong Kong.
Asuncion’s death came as reports suggested mainland authorities were considering allowing foreign domestic workers to be hired in five top cities.