A Pakistani who sought asylum in the SAR just after the terrorist attacks in the US has been denied entry, prompting fears that refugees are being deprived of the right to a fair assessment amid tighter immigration control. Amnesty International Hong Kong said yesterday the Pakistani journalist had come to Hong Kong seeking asylum a few days after the September 11 attacks. Group administrator Danny Lau Hing-yeung said the man, who was detained by immigration officers at the airport, was allowed to call his brother, who is also seeking asylum in Hong Kong. Mr Lau said United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) officials arranged to meet the journalist on the second day of his detention. 'But the UNHCR rejected his claim for refugee status and the man was deported to Pakistan after being detained for about four or five days. This is not the normal procedure. We think asylum seekers should be allowed to enter Hong Kong so that there will be more time to assess their cases,' Mr Lau said. He said it should take three to four months for an asylum seeker's case to be vetted. Mr Lau said the journalist's younger brother, who claimed to be a leader of the Pakistan People's Party, came to Hong Kong to apply for refugee status in 1998 but left after his case was rejected by the UNHCR in 1999. He re-entered Hong Kong in September last year and was still waiting for a second UNHCR decision on his status. The brothers claimed they were facing political suppression in their home country. Pakistan nationals are allowed a 14-day visa-free stay in Hong Kong and can extend their stay if the UNHCR accepts their application for political asylum. The Security Bureau said yesterday that the necessary operational arrangements had been implemented to ensure the existing visa-free policy would not be circumvented after a surge in asylum seekers. 'The Government maintains close liaison with the UNHCR and is aware that the number of people who, after entering Hong Kong as visitors, lodge asylum claims at the local UNHCR office has increased recently,' a bureau spokesman said. The UNHCR said the number of people seeking refugee status arriving in Hong Kong had risen from 50 a year over the past three years to 100 a month this year. Amnesty International said it had handled 28 asylum cases so far this year, compared with 10 for the whole of last year. Most of them were from Pakistan and Sri Lanka. Both groups said that the surge was not related to the US terror attacks but to increasing civil unrest and war in their countries.