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Friday, January 15, 2016, 14:36

HK to review its asylum policy

By Ming Yeung /

HK to review its asylum policy
This picture taken on June 11, 2013 shows Bangladeshi refugees talking at a compound where asylum seekers from Bangladesh reside, in the Ping Che rural area of Hong Kong near the border with the Chinese mainland. (AFP PHOTO / Philip pe Lopez)

HONG KONG - Chief Executive CY Leung confirmed that the government would review how Hong Kong handles asylum seekers, including whether it should withdraw from the United Nations Convention against Torture, reports RTHK.

While responding to a member of the audience who called in during a radio talk, Leung said a review of the immigration ordinance was needed as abuse of the provisions by some people was putting a lot of strain on the administrative resources here.

The CE, however, ruled out reintroducing camps on outlying islands and country parks to hold asylum seekers.

When contacted, the Immigration Department confirmed the Hong Kong government was planning to amend policies in relation to non-refoulement Protection claims to curb the increasing number of applicants.

The Security Bureau recorded nearly 11,000 claims as of the end of last year. The number of applicants increased fourfold from 2010-13’s 102 a month to 2014-15’s 440 a month in average. More than 300 illegal immigrants were discovered every month over the same period.

More than 60 percent of those who filed non-refoulement claims had made their applications before a unified screening mechanism was launched in March 2014. The screening process is done independently by the Hong Kong government now, not the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR).

To deter further influx of applicants, the government intends of implement measures such as application assessment at airports of the origin countries, increase penalties on human trafficking activities, as well as shorten application period.

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