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The Hong Kong administration has contacted the Interior Ministry to seek action against the increasing number of illegal Pakistani immigrants sneaking entry into Hong Kong with false hopes of ‘refugee status’.
A well placed source in the Interior Ministry informed Pakistan Today that a Hong Kong delegation had contacted the Ministry seeking a meeting with top Ministry officials to take up the issue of increasing number of illegal Pakistani immigrants into Hong Kong.
When contacted, a Chinese embassy official confirmed the arrival of a four-member delegation from Hong Kong to take the matter with their Pakistani counterparts.
In an exclusive chat with Pakistan Today,
Hong Kong Immigration Department Assistant Director Fung Ngai Wa, while talking to Pakistan Today, confirmed that he was leading a four-member delegation to Pakistan to share his government’s concerns with Pakistan.
He said that syndicates were involved in luring innocent people from South Asian and South African nations into Hong Kong with a false hope of getting them asylum or refugee status.
“I am here with a clear message to innocent Pakistanis who are being misled by some syndicates in Hong Kong: We don’t facilitate refugee status requests. Hong Kong is not a signatory to the 1951 United Nations Convention relating to the Status of Refugees and its 1967 Protocol,” he said.
Fung clarified that the illegal immigrants seeking non-refoulement under the Unified Screening Mechanism in Hong Kong are not to be treated as ‘asylum seekers’ or ‘refugees’.
“For example, illegal immigrants will not be offered legal status to settle in Hong Kong, regardless of the result of their non-refoulement claim (which only offers them temporary suspension of removal). In fact, the Hong Kong government has a long-established policy of not granting asylum to anyone and not determining or recognising anyone as a refugee,” said Fung.
When asked how many Pakistani immigrants are facing investigations in Hong Kong, Fung said that there are around 2,000 illegal immigrant cases still pending.
“Out of those, 700 cases were from Pakistan in year 2015 and the number is increasing. Every month we have around 100 cases from Pakistan which is alarming,” he added.
When pressed whether the immigrants are provided a fair trial in Hong Kong, Fung said that the Hong Kong government ensures a fair trial to all immigrants.
“We even pay for their lawyer, translator’s fee besides providing them other living facilities,” he added.
Fung further said the visitors are not allowed to take up employment in Hong Kong, whether paid or unpaid, without the permission of the Director of Immigration as there was no refugee visa allowed.
“Offenders of the law (illegal immigrants) are liable to prosecution and upon conviction face a maximum fine of $50,000 and up to two years’ imprisonment,” he said, and added that the Hong Kong government reiterates that as stipulated in section 38-AA of the Immigration Ordinance, illegal immigrants or people who are the subject of a removal or deportation order are prohibited from taking up any employment, whether paid or unpaid, or joining in any business.
“Offenders are liable upon conviction to a maximum fine of $50,000 and up to three years’ imprisonment. The Court of Appeal has issued a guideline ruling that a sentence of 15 months’ imprisonment should be applied in such cases,” he added.
When asked about the delegation’s meeting in Islamabad, Fung said that he had held meetings with the officials concerned and his counterparts and he hoped for a positive response.
He said that the spread of illegal migrants was also causing unpleasant questioning for genuine investors who might face stringent measures upon arrival at the Hong Kong airport.
“Due to the increase of illegal migrants, we are tightening the laws to ensure no illegal migrant jeopardise the prospects of genuine and serious business persons and entrepreneurs into Hong Kong,” he concluded.