Legco told of case involving arrest of sex-attack victim An asylum seeker was detained by police for overstaying days after she went to the authorities saying she had been raped in Hong Kong, lawmakers heard yesterday. A spokeswoman for the Association Concerning Sexual Violence Against Women, Ng Wai-ching, told legislators police arrested a suspect in the case and also the alleged victim for overstaying even though she had a letter from the United Nations refugee body showing her pending asylum claim. 'Eventually, they decided not to prosecute the rape case but said they would make a case against the woman for overstaying,' Ms Ng said. 'She was the victim of a rape but she was actually punished and deprived of justice.' Ms Ng told legislators it was only after intervention by the association and lawyers that police agreed to transfer the woman to the immigration department, which released her. Deputy Secretary for Security Grace Lui Kit-yuk confirmed the woman had filed a rape complaint with police on May 22, and the police investigated the case. 'The Department of Justice studied the case and decided that no prosecution action should be taken,' she said. 'The Hong Kong government needs to act in accordance with the law.' At a special joint meeting of the security and welfare services panels, members of the democratic camp urged the government to put in place a mechanism to vet claims for asylum, and support asylum seekers while they were waiting for cases to be assessed. Representatives of a dozen non-governmental organisations, the Bar Association, a law firm, the University of Hong Kong and the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) criticised the government's detention of asylum seekers, and called for a policy of granting temporary visas to asylum seekers and torture claimants. But Democratic Alliance for the Betterment and Progress of Hong Kong lawmaker Lau Kong-wah said he agreed with the government's policy and called for immigration rules to be strengthened to reduce the 'magnet effect' of Hong Kong for refugees. There are 1,800 asylum seekers in Hong Kong according to UNHCR figures, with about 160 new arrivals a month. Only about 11 per cent are recognised as refugees. Monique Sokhan, head of the UNHCR's Hong Kong office, said the body was unable to cope with the numbers and called for the government and NGOs to help.