Immigration officials say more asylum seekers are lodging non-refoulement – or protection – claims upon arrival in Hong Kong, with six made in the past week. But NGOs aiding such individuals are alarmed at what they see as the government’s increasingly negative attitude towards those seeking refuge. The Immigration Department said six Indian men had lodged non-refoulement claims after being refused entry in the past week. Non-refoulement is a principle in international law that concerns the protection of refugees from being returned to places where their lives or freedoms could be threatened. READ MORE: Syrian flees 7,000km to seek sanctuary in Hong Kong “The Immigration Department will conduct further investigation on whether or not there is any person who intentionally arranged for these passengers to lodge claims for non-refoulement in Hong Kong,” the department said in a statement. Two of the men arrived from Macau by ferry on September 18, and two more on September 20. They had previously been removed to Macau after their request to come to Hong Kong was denied on August 18. This time round their legal representative immediately lodged non-refoulement claims. The acting director of external relations at the Justice Centre, Victoria Wisniewski Otero, said recent government public statements over asylum seekers could fuel misconceptions and foster a climate of intolerance. “Justice Centre Hong Kong has been actively monitoring a disturbing trend in the government’s discourse in the past couple of months to label refugees as ‘illegal immigrants’,” she said in an email. READ MORE: Hard lessons for Europe from Hong Kong's refugee crisis The government said earlier this month that there had been an increase in the number of Indian nationals lodging non-refoulement claims – which could be a torture claim or an asylum claim – through their lawyers before entering Hong Kong. Government figures show 228 asylum claims have been made at border control points so far this year. The government says it does not take refugees because Hong Kong is not a signatory of the UN’s 1951 Refugee Convention.