HK judge appeals not to abuse asylum system
A judge in Sai Wan Ho, Hong Kong, denied a Filipino woman’s decision to file a torture claim after working for years as a domestic worker.
Eastern Magistrates Courts Principal Magistrate Bina Chainrai commented on E. Liban’s decision to seek asylum in 2011 after working as a domestic helper since 2003. When Liban’s contract was not renewed, she filed a torture claim.
Chainrai said this was an abuse of the system, after Liban appeared before her and pleaded guilty to one charge of shop theft. The store owner of a Wellcome store in Causeway Bay caught Liban trying to steal three cans of coffee from a Wellcome store on February 25.
Liban immediately admitted to the crime after an officer stopped her. Her lawyer claimed her poor situation—being the breadwinner of a 60-year-old diabetic boyfriend and a four-year-old son—forced her to steal coffee.
As she sought for asylum, she is not allowed to work. Her boyfriend’s dwindling savings caused her to commit the crime.
The lawyer asked Chainrai for leniency, as Liban immediately admitted to the crime and was sorry. Chinarai ordered Liban to pay a fine of HKD500 (PHP2,980) and sentenced her to two months in prison. However, the sentence was suspended to 18 months, as long as Liban does not commit a crime within that period of time.
In February, the Hong Kong government announced that it was conducting an inclusive review of the asylum process after many asylum seekers have abused the system.
A number of overstaying Filipinos in Hong Kong have also sought political asylum after they were arrested, claiming they would be tortured if they are brought back to the Philippines.
The Hong Kong government is considering introducing pre-arrival registration and to increase penalties against human smuggling.