THE Immigration Department was yesterday accused of using ''Gestapo tactics'' against a domestic helper who was taken into custody by officers after she was reportedly denied legal advice and telephone calls. Nena (not her real name) was held by immigration officers for five days until she appeared in Western Court charged with making a false representation to an immigration officer. However, she had not been allowed to discuss the case with anybody, according to United Migrant Workers and her sister. A lawyer added his voice to a call for reforms, saying the department and law courts were in ''flagrant breach'' of the Bill of Rights. According to the lawyer, who specialises in immigration and domestic helper cases, migrant workers are regularly being denied access to legal representation. While refusing to comment on individual cases, an Immigration Department spokesman said the rights of people held in custody were always observed, including access to legal representation and the right to make telephone calls. The immigration lawyer noted that over the past few months an increasing number of first-time offenders were being sent to jail after a brief court appearance without legal representation. The lawyer was concerned that the Immigration Department might be denying people in custody their basic civil liberties. ''Immigration is so powerful - frighteningly so, because it exercises pure executive power. The whole point of a legal system is to stop this sort of thing,'' he said. The acting administrator of the Duty Lawyers Scheme, Ms Grace Wong Jain-li, has advised her officers to keep ''a tight watch'' on immigration cases. ''It is certainly a concern if migrant workers are sentenced to jail,'' said Ms Wong. ''It is our impression that in immigration cases a fine will normally be imposed. But if the magistrate expects to impose an immediate custodial sentence then he would refer the case to us and we would take it on as soon as possible,'' she added. The immigration lawyer said the contentious two-week rule was playing a big part in domestic helpers breaching their conditions of stay. Under the rule, a worker has two weeks to find a new employer if either she or her boss breaks the contract before its two-year term expires. United Filipinos in Hongkong, an umbrella organisation of nine groups in the territory, has organised a campaign to get the rule scrapped. On May 2, 3,000 domestic workers are expected to march to Government House from Statue Square to hand over a petition with 10,000 signatures calling for the ''unjust'' rule to be abolished. The head of United Filipinos, Ms Marrz Balaoro, said the rule was leading to a ''rampant number of overstaying cases''. ''Eighty per cent of contracts are broken by employers. Many employment agencies offer employers free swaps on domestic helpers, no questions asked, but leave the worker abandoned with two weeks to find a new employer or become a criminal because they have no money to return home,'' explained Ms Balaoro.