Date
23 January 2017
Immigration agents in a law enforcement drill at the Hong Kong International Airport. Secretary for Security Lai Tung-kwok (inset) said the government is raising the budget for processing asylum seekers. Photos: Immigration Department, CNSA
Immigration agents in a law enforcement drill at the Hong Kong International Airport. Secretary for Security Lai Tung-kwok (inset) said the government is raising the budget for processing asylum seekers. Photos: Immigration Department, CNSA

Govt allots HK$644 million to process 10,450 asylum seekers

Hong Kong is spending more than HK$644 million this year to process 10,450 applications from asylum seekers, Secretary for Security Lai Tung-kwok said.

In a written reply to a Legislative Council inquiry on whether the asylum claim system is being abused, Lai said the budget to process the pending applications has been raised 21 percent from last year, Sing Tao Daily reported on Thursday.

The amount allocated to provide legal support to the asylum seekers will reach HK$108 million this year, up 10 times from five years ago, or about HK$30,000 per case.

The applicants say they left their home countries to escape political persecution. Some of them are from India, Vietnam and Pakistan.

Hong Kong lawmakers have expressed concern over the asylum program after immigration authorities said they are investigating suspected collusion between asylum seekers and local entities.

The investigation is focusing on recent incidents in which foreigners filed torture claim applications upon arrival to avoid deportation.

Lai said the government is concerned about recent reports that some agencies in India are arranging for their nationals to come to Hong Kong with fake asylum claims to seek employment.

He said city representatives have held meetings with the Indian consul-general to express concern over the situation and proposed that Hong Kong authorities visit India to investigate further.

The government is also studying whether the Basic Law allows the setting up of a detention camp in the territory for asylum seekers.

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TL/AC/CG

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