Immigration Department responds to person's allegation made at media session this afternoon

15 March 2017

In connection with a media session this afternoon (March 15) with a person, who claimed to have been unlawfully staying in Hong Kong since August 2016 and subsequently under detention and repatriation by the Immigration Department (ImmD), the ImmD made the following response:

"Officers of the ImmD have all along been treating all the detainees and persons pending repatriation in a fair and impartial way. Detainees may request for legal consultation services or arrangement for medical examination. Justices of the Peace (JP) will pay regular visits to the Detention Centre to receive any complaints lodged by the detainees. Meanwhile, detainees are informed of the relevant complaint channels. Besides, there is a comprehensive complaint mechanism in the Detention Centre. Posters/notices have been put up to display clearly various complaint channels and procedures for the detainees' information." an ImmD spokesman said.

According to our records, among the detainees, who had received medical examinations provided by the medical staff of the detention centre since August 2016, there was no such injury case of the subject found. During the period, there were a total of 15 site inspections to the detention centre conducted by the JPs of which they visited the detainees, and no complaint of any person being assaulted by immigration officers as such was received. Also, the ImmD has never received any related complaints by the legal representative of the subject lodged to the Superintendent, the Office of the Ombudsman or other relevant authorities.

For the repatriation, the ImmD will try to remove any persons from Hong Kong if the person concerned indicates that he/she is willing to return to his/her place of origin. Before the person is to be removed on each occasion, the ImmD will explain in details to him/her the repatriation arrangements and his/her rights. In some previous cases, the person to be removed from Hong Kong had indicated his/her willingness initially. However, he/she suddenly behaved in an uncooperative manner and put up a violent struggle once he/she was escorted to a boarding gate of the airport for boarding a flight. To prevent the person concerned from fleeing or committing excessive and extrovert acts that would undermine the safety of himself/herself and that of the public, staff members of the ImmD had to use minimal force to subdue him. However, under such circumstances, the airline company, citing his unruly behavior, may refuse to let the person concerned board the plane on safety grounds. The ImmD will therefore suspend the removal of the person concerned. For instance, during the period from October to November last year, an illegal immigrant had used the aforesaid tactics for three times at the airport leading to the suspension of removal action.

"Any members of the ImmD will under no circumstances assault any persons or exert any violence against any persons, including those who are under detention and pending repatriation," an ImmD spokesman emphasised.

As for the aspect of making a non-refoulement claims, claimants and their legal representatives should have a thorough understanding of the unified screening mechanism's (by reference to section 37X of the Immigration Ordinance) requirements which stipulate: a person who claims non-refoulement protection in Hong Kong on the ground of risks of torture (as defined by section 37U(1)), his/her absolute and non-derogable right under the HKBOR being infringed, or persecution must signify to an immigration officer in writing the person's intention to seek non-refoulement protection. The written signification must give a general indication of the person's reasons for claiming non-refoulement protection in Hong Kong, being reasons that relate to an act falling within the meaning of torture, his/her absolute and non-derogable right under the HKBOR being infringed, or persecution. For instance, if an illegal immigrant refuses to be repatriated by claiming that he/she has right of abode in Hong Kong or wishes to seek employment in Hong Kong, this does not fall within the reasons of lodging non-refoulement claims.

An ImmD spokesman expressed deep regret over the one-sided groundless or unfounded allegations made against the ImmD and without any proof provided. The ImmD also emphasised that no violence incident or malpractices would be tolerated. Any person who claims to have fallen victim of violence during the period of detention shall promptly lodge a complaint to the ImmD or report it to the police. The ImmD and the relevant law enforcement agencies will deal with the matter in accordance with the law and the established procedures in a serious manner.