Thousands of refugee torture claims pending

August 07, 2015 13:39
An immigration officer interviews a refugee. More than a fifth of 10,000 pending torture claim applications were filed in the first six months alone. Photos:

Hong Kong has more than 10,000 pending torture claim applications from asylum seekers.

More than a fifth of these claims were filed in the six months to June alone, Sing Tao Daily reports, citing the Immigration Department. 

The claimants are mostly from South Asian or Southeast Asian countries, nearly 40 percent of whom are Indians and Pakistanis.

Vietnamese account for 17 percent of the total, the fastest-growing group.

They are seeking refuge in Hong Kong, claiming political persecution in their home countries.

Immigration authorities had approved 12 out of 2,200 applications as of July 26. A total of 336 people have been or will be deported.

The government has allocated HK$640 million (US$82.56 million) in the current fiscal year to deal with torture claims.

Assistant director William Fung, who heads the department's enforcement and assessment division, said nearly half of the refugees came as tourists and overstayed their visa.

Another 44 percent entered Hong Kong illegally, he said.

More tourists, especially from India, apparently come well prepared to press their torture claims, Fung said.

Fung said some of those who have had their applications rejected are represented by Hong Kong lawyers who are helping them while they await deportation.

The department is investigating whether any illegal collusion is involved, he said.

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