No 16/06: Carole Petersen and Peggy Lee, May 2006
Forced Labour and Debt Bondage in Hong Kong: A Study of Indonesian and
Filipina Migrant Domestic Workers
No 8/03: Robyn Emerton and Carole Petersen, April 2003
“Migrant Nightclub/Escort Workers in Hong Kong: An Analysis of Possible Human Rights Abuses”
International human rights law and refugee protection in Asian states not party to the 1951 Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees
Principal Investigator: Kelley Loper
Project Period: 01/2018-12/2019
Funding Source: Hong Kong Research Grants Council, General Research Fund
Some have questioned the continuing relevance of the 1951 Convention relating to the Status of Refugees and its 1967 Protocol (Refugee Convention). International human rights law has expanded rapidly since 1951 and, in principle, applies to all human beings including refugees. General and specialised United Nations (UN) treaties and the interpretive materials produced by human rights monitoring bodies have further clarified states’ obligations to protect refugees and other migrants beyond the confines of the Refugee Convention. This study aims to examine the application of international human rights law to refugee protection in Asian states not party to the Refugee Convention. The potential impact of more recent international human rights treaties on the protection of refugees has particular significance in Asia since only nine of twenty-seven states and jurisdictions in three Asian sub-regions have acceded to the Convention. Although this study will consider all UN core international human rights instruments, it will focus on the application of CEDAW and the CRC in Asia in particular. It will analyse the impact of states’ interaction with the international human rights regime on the development of refugee law in the region.
Legal Assistance for Asylum Seekers and Torture Claimants in Hong Kong
Principal Investigator: Kelley Loper
Co-Investigator: Simon Young
Project Period: October 2009 – September 2012
Funding Source: Research Grants Council Public Policy Research Grant 2009/2010
This study aims to identify alternative approaches to the provision of legal assistance to asylum seekers and torture claimants through an examination of relevant legal assistance schemes in other common law jurisdictions. The project will determine gaps in Hong Kong law and policy and then assess whether any elements of the comparative models investigated are appropriate for adoption in the Hong Kong context. The study seeks to identify an effective legal aid and assistance model for claimants and to determine what criteria can be used to measure suitability of comparative models for potential application in Hong Kong.
Principal Investigator: Kelley Loper
The Refugee Convention and Protocol are the key international legal documents that set out the definition of a refugee and the rights of refugees to adequate protection. These instruments have not been extended to the Hong Kong SAR, although they apply to the People’s Republic of China and the Macau SAR. In addition, a protected status for refugees or asylum seekers does not exist in Hong Kong law or policy. The SAR government’s current approach is to treat all arrivals in accordance with the Immigration Ordinance (Cap. 115) and immigration guidelines which do not mention or require different treatment for asylum seekers or refugees. Apart from a mechanism to assess torture claims under Article 3(1) of the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (“Torture Convention”), the Hong Kong government has not established refugee status determination procedures. The Hong Kong government has stated in the past that it does not intend to request extension of the Refugee Convention to the SAR and believes that extension is undesirable. It has also has stated that it does not plan to implement a refugee status determination mechanism and instead relies on the UNHCR’s Hong Kong sub-office to process asylum seekers’ applications in Hong Kong. There is no formal system for directing asylum seekers to the UNHCR, however, and access to the UNHCR depends on individual initiative and knowledge or on the discretion of immigration officials who may or may not contact the UNHCR sub-office when approached by someone claiming asylum.
Submissions and Policy Papers
Ways to improve the situation of refugees, torture claimants and asylum seekers in Hong Kong: July 2013
On 18 July 2013 former CCPL Director Simon Young, Director Puja Kapai and Deputy Director Kelley Loper jointly submitted a paper to the Members of the Legislative Council Panel for their consideration at the Special Meeting of the LegCo Panel on Welfare Services. The paper recommends that the Hong Kong Government commission a comprehensive comparative study of the basic social, medical and economic benefits/entitlements provided to refugees, torture claimants and asylum seekers in a representative range of jurisdictions.
Submission on Hong Kong’s International Legal Obligations toward Refugees and Asylum Seekers For Consideration at the Joint Meeting of the Legislative Council Panels on Welfare Services and Security on the situation of asylum seekers, refugees and claimants against torture in Hong Kong: July 2006
Kelley Loper, Research Assistant Professor
Trafficking of Women into Hong Kong
Principal Investigators: Robyn Emerton, Karen Joe Laidler and Carole Petersen
Project Period: November 2003 – April 2006
Funding Source: HKU Small Project Funding Programme
This project started in 2000, with the publication of Emerton’s research paper on Trafficking of Women into Hong Kong for the purposes of Prostitution: Preliminary Research Findings. The paper was the first academic study on the topic of trafficking into Hong Kong, and generated much public debate on the issue, both locally and regionally. Shortly after the paper’s publication, in February 2001, the CCPL hosted a Round Table on Trafficking of Women into Hong Kong for the Purposes of Prostitution, at the University of Hong Kong. The event helped to foster links between different groups and individuals working in the area, and to provide impetus for further research and action. In 2003, Emerton, Petersen and Laidler (from the Centre for Criminology at the University of Hong Kong) were awarded a small project grant by the University Grants Council, to further their research in this area. In particular, the team was granted access to three correctional institutes in Hong Kong, enabling research assistant Garlum Lau to conduct 58 in-depth interviews with Mainland Chinese women imprisoned for criminal and/or immigration offences relating to their involvement in prostitution in Hong Kong. The project aimed to assess the background of the women, recruitment methods, work conditions and the level of control exercised over them. It also aimed to evaluate the extent to which the women might have been trafficked into Hong Kong, under the modern international definition of the term. In April 2006, the CCPL, in conjunction with the Centre for Criminology, held a round-table to present and discuss the findings of this project. Attendees included officials from various government departments, members of the police force, the judiciary and the bar, consular officials, non-governmental organisations, and academics. Emerton and Petersen have also examined the human rights situation of Filipinas working as nightclub hostesses in Hong Kong, including the extent to which they might be considered trafficked.
No 3/01: Robyn Emerton, February 2001
“Trafficking on Women into Hong Kong for the purpose of Prostitution”
Conference and Seminar Papers
Seminar: Human Trafficking: Regional and International Perspectives
26 May 2008
Presentation by Ingela Klinteberg, District Chief Prosecutor of Sweden [PPT]
Minutes of the Round Table on Trafficking, 28 February 2001
Hosted by Carole Petersen and Robyn Emerton
The “Round Table” brought together people from different backgrounds who are interested in working on this issue, to discuss further research needs, policy needs and strategies. There have been calls for a working group to be set up, to develop strategies both to help prevent the trafficking of women into Hong Kong and to help protect those women who are trafficked into Hong Kong.