Jail for hunger strikers

VIETNAMESE hunger strikers admitted to hospital are being sent to Victoria Prison after their treatment rather than back to their camps as part of a new government policy aimed at stopping the protest fasts.

The policy came into effect on Tuesday when 10 Vietnamese hunger strikers from High Island detention centre were taken to the already crowded Victoria Prison.

Correctional Services (CSD) Commissioner Eric McCosh confirmed yesterday that the group had been transferred to the jail but said they were not listed for a government deportation flight.

People are often taken to Victoria Prison prior to being deported.

A CSD spokesman last night refused to say whether the transfer was part of a new policy.

Hunger strikes have been conducted in the three main Vietnamese detention centres since April to protest against the forced repatriation programme and the screening process used by the Government to determine if an asylum seeker should be awarded refugeestatus.

About 25,500 Vietnamese in Hong Kong detention centres have been refused refugee status and must be returned to Vietnam by the end of next year - a deadline set by the international community.