August 17, 2022


Legal With Effect

Lawmaker dismisses connect with for fresh general public hearing on Hong Kong’s proposed immigration law

a person taking a selfie: Lawmaker Elizabeth Quat says the government has already taken a lot of views on board on the issue. Photo: Edmond So

Lawmaker Elizabeth Quat suggests the authorities has now taken a lot of sights on board on the issue. Photo: Edmond So

Professional-institution lawmaker Elizabeth Quat on Friday dismissed the have to have for a clean public listening to on Hong Kong’s proposed immigration regulation that would tighten the techniques to claim asylum and grant officers new powers to carry guns and steel batons at a detention centre for immigrants.

Quat, also the chairperson of the Legislative Council committee on the bill, claimed it experienced presently been determined that penned submissions identifying issues on the subject ended up plenty of.

“The governing administration has presently taken a ton of sights on board,” Quat reported, pointing to community hearings held when amendments to the Immigration Ordinance had been initially proposed in 2018.

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The city’s human legal rights advocates and legal professionals had previously referred to as for a new general public listening to on the invoice.

The authorities reported the invoice was necessary to enhance the screening processes for non-refoulement statements, and improve measures for legislation enforcement, removal and detention.

Beneath global human rights law, non-refoulement is the principle of not sending another person to a position exactly where they might be persecuted or tortured.

Among the the proposals integrated in the new invoice is one granting officers the electricity to carry guns and steel batons at a detention centre for immigrants in Tuen Mun, and another that critics say opens the doorway to the indefinite detention of asylum seekers.

The general public was invited to submit created submissions by Tuesday, and human rights teams, legal professionals, a district councillor, a church and the Hong Kong Bar Affiliation were amid those using the opportunity to increase concerns about the proposed regulation.

a man wearing a suit and tie: Lawmaker Holden Chow feels it is necessary to amend the law to tackle abuses of the existing mechanism. Photo: Edmond So

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Lawmaker Holden Chow feels it is required to amend the regulation to deal with abuses of the existing system. Photo: Edmond So

The Bar Affiliation expressed “deep worry” in distinct about the provisions associated to detention.

“These provisions would final result in arbitrary and unjustified immigration detention in situation that are incompatible with essential human legal rights and very long-standing popular regulation principles,” the legal physique said, urging the committee to drop the proposal.

The group’s submission also elevated worries that quite a few of the bill’s proposals would diminish the fairness of the screening system and “deliver minor or no reduction in overall processing time.”

Other advocates have accused the governing administration of hurrying the proposed regulation forward.

The Refugee Concern Community, a group of much more than 16 civil society organisations and people today advocating for refugees and asylum seekers in Hong Kong, identified as for a public listening to that would take location by using movie conference.

“We want to give a human voice to this debate. We want to raise awareness that refugees and asylum seekers in Hong Kong are people today who are not below by alternative,” explained Virginie Goethals’, co-founder of Rebuild, Unite, Nurture (Run).

Former opposition lawmaker Fernando Cheung Chiu-hung agreed public hearings ended up “normally needed” and considering that they could be held on the net, “there is truly no justification for the Bills Committee to skip it.”

No interpreters, indefinite detention? Hong Kong immigration monthly bill attracts critics

“Quite a few asylum seekers may perhaps not be capable to publish or never have obtain to a personal computer and consequently would be denied the prospect to give their views,” he additional.

In his submission, human rights law firm Mark Daly stated “sizeable pieces of the proposed amendments” had not been elevated in 2018 or 2019, and only became known publicly when the invoice was printed in the gazette on December 4.

With earlier legislation, Daly argued, there had been “genuine dialogue with vital stakeholders”, this sort of as the UNHCR, the Legislation Modern society, the Bar Association and neighborhood NGOs as perfectly as appropriate scrutiny by knowledgeable legislators, which include the authorized sector.

“With this rushed system and without having community hearings, the end result will be bad quality, unfair and a person-sided choice-earning that could end result in a lot more litigation,” he stated.

The Refugee Worry Group, meanwhile, took situation with problems by authorities that the provision of interpreters for claimants who they believed could communicate English brought about unneeded delays.

The potential to discuss a language does not equate to the capacity to comprehend elaborate authorized proceedings in that language, the team argued in its submission.

The Division of Immigration currently has 11 interpreters below agreement.

In accordance to Daly, the proposed provisions, which consist of shortened timelines, alterations to interpreter entry, and extended detention, would only make lawyers’ work opportunities far more tough.

“These are all crucial bricks in the total wall … which is going to be manufactured extra tricky,” he claimed.

Hong Kong does not handle people today fleeing their dwelling international locations as “asylum seekers” or “refugees”, but somewhat as undocumented immigrants, as the metropolis is not a signatory to the UN Refugee Convention and its 1967 Protocol.

Nonetheless, people arriving in Hong Kong can however file a non-refoulement declare, following which they are assessed by a screening system to come to a decision no matter whether they need to be repatriated or allowed to remain, pending formal refugee claims taken care of by the UN.

John Martin sitting in front of a book shelf: Human rights lawyer Mark Daly. Photo: SCMP

© Offered by South China Morning Publish
Human legal rights attorney Mark Daly. Photo: SCMP

The acceptance amount is considerably less than 1 per cent, noticeably lower than the worldwide normal of 30 for every cent.

Adhering to a thorough critique of the procedure to speed up the procedure, the Immigration Division managed to crystal clear 22,988 claims by December of final yr. According to governing administration figures, there are about 13,000 asylum seekers remaining in Hong Kong.

Immediately after the Immigration Monthly bill was gazetted, it was debated twice on December 16, with the second session ending early. A day to resume the discussion experienced nevertheless to be set.

Professional-establishment lawmakers have argued it was important to amend the regulation to tackle abuses of the present system.

“Claimants with no real grounds usually abuse the procedure by using delaying ways, for illustration, intentionally refusing to transform up to interviews, and as a end result of that abuse, we finish up squandering an massive volume of community resources,” said DAB lawmaker Holden Chow Ho-ding, pointing to the close to HK$950 million (US$122 million) the government invested last year on non-refoulement statements.

Hong Kong a ‘hard place’ for asylum seekers

Michael Tien Puk-sunlight, one more professional-establishment lawmaker, also agreed the charge was much too high. “Administrative adjustments are essential to speed up the approval process,” he claimed.

The new bill’s authors say it will assure that non-refoulement claims and appropriate appeals are handled as competently as probable though meeting the significant criteria of fairness essential by law, but will eliminate unsuccessful claimants from Hong Kong as before long as achievable.

But senior pastor Andrew Gardener of the Vine Church in Wan Chai countered in his submission that time-saving actions these types of as creating preliminary repatriation preparations with the consulates of claimants’ residence international locations could be likely unsafe and “cannot be justified exclusively on the grounds of effectiveness.”

Tien disagreed, expressing he supported the proposed alter due to the fact the passport application approach for an unsuccessful claimant could consider as extensive as 6 months in some scenarios.

In a January 20 blog site publish, Secretary for Stability John Lee Ka-chiu declared a new detention facility, the Tai Tam Gap Correctional Institution, would soon be up and running, with capability for 160 detainees.

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This short article originally appeared on the South China Early morning Submit (, the primary news media reporting on China and Asia.

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