NGOs call for speedier, more efficient refugee process

April 12, 2016 19:13
A group of non-government organizations is urging the government to take action to curb discrimination against refugees and ethnic minorities. Photo: Facebook

Dozens of non-government organizations and individuals have signed a petition calling for an end to discrimination against refugees and ethnic minorities.

They are concerned about recent "inaccurate and irresponsible comments" regarding the refugee issue.

The comments are divisive and inflammatory and are fueling hostility toward refugees and ethnic minorities, they said in a statement.

"If negative stereotyping and hostile attitudes are repeatedly placed in the public eye in this way, xenophobia and discrimination against both refugees and ethnic minorities will continue to increase," the statement said.

"We acknowledge that concerns have been raised following an increase in the number of protection claimants in Hong Kong and apparent abuses of the system," it said.

"These concerns must be listened to, but matters must be kept in perspective, and international law should be upheld. In fact, Hong Kong actually has low levels of refugees."

The group is calling for a speedier process and a more efficient screening mechanism for asylum seekers.

It said some of the proposals, such as Hong Kong’s withdrawal from the United Nations Convention Against Torture (UNCAT) or closed detention camps, are ill-advised and some violate international law.

Withdrawal from UNCAT would roll back the rights and protections of every resident of Hong Kong against being tortured or exposed to other abuse, it said.

"This would affect us all, and we should therefore resolutely defend the continued respect for international law."

[Go to the joint statement]

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