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「這裏只能生存不能生活」 收容斯諾登 難民盼離港

Dec 28th, 2016 | Media | Comment

1

 

Also see:

「劏房無窗像監獄」

斯諾登嗜肉不愛菜

 

Snowden asks for Christmas gift for refugees who helped him

Dec 25th, 2016 | Media | Comment

snowden xmas

 

See also:

FB: For the refugees

FUNDRAZR: Canadians Help Snowden’s Guardian Angels

SPUTNIK: Snowden Asks Internet to Support Refugees in Hong Kong Who Helped Him

WASHINGTON EXAMINER: Snowden asks for Christmas gift of helping refugees who helped him

RADIO CANADA: Des familles ayant hébergé Edward Snowden à Hong Kong en subissent les conséquences

Lawyers to help refugees who sheltered Snowden in Hong Kong

Dec 21st, 2016 | Advocacy, Media, Refugee Community, Rejection | Comment

Aljazeera - Lawyers to help refugees who sheltered Snowden in Hong Kong - 19Dec2016

Video also available here:

YOUTUBE: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WsF2EYBcmGA

More news can be found here:

THE GLOBE AND MAIL: Montreal lawyers urge Ottawa to help asylum-seekers who housed Snowden

SOUTH CHINA MORNING POST: Canada’s government urged to take in Hong Kong asylum seekers who sheltered Edward Snowden

NEXTSHARK: Three Families Who Housed Edward Snowden in Hong Kong Seek Asylum in Canada

AQAADI: Montreal lawyers urge Ottawa to help asylum-seekers who housed Snowden

AUDIOBOOM: Edward Snowden got out of Hong Kong by hiding in the one place the government would never think to look

RFI: 律師呼籲加拿大接收在香港藏匿斯諾登的人 

Tighter Hong Kong visa rules may affect more foreign visitors than only Indians

Dec 19th, 2016 | Government, Immigration, Media | Comment

indians vis

Hong Kong Snowden refugees dream of better life

Dec 16th, 2016 | Media | Comment

AFP - Hong Kong Snowden refugees dream of better life - 16Dec2016

Also read:

COCONUTS: Trapped in limbo in Hong Kong, ‘Snowden refugees’ dream of better life

RADIO METRO 951: La familia que ocultó a Edward Snowden (in Spanish)

HK FREE PRESS: In Pictures: ‘Treated like animals’, Hong Kong’s ‘Snowden refugees’ dream of better life

See also Joseph Gordon-Levitt’s call to support the families that helped Snowden

TWITTER:  You can show your support here for the Hong Kong families who helped Edward @Snowden…

FACEBOOK: You can show your support here for the Hong Kong families who helped Edward Snowden…

 

 

 

Travesty of justice at Lands Tribunal

Dec 13th, 2016 | Government, Housing, Legal, VF Report, Welfare | Comment

Lands Tribunal case Judgement

http://legalref.judiciary.gov.hk/lrs/common/ju/ju_frame.jsp?DIS=107188&currpage=T

Court would not even stay proceedings with a Legal Aid Department (LAD) memorandum and statutory stay of 14 days. The court found.

“The Tribunal received A Memorandum of Notification of an Application for Legal Aid by the respondent dated 5 December 2016.  By section 15(4) of the Legal Aid Ordinance, all proceedings in the action or in the appeal or in both the action and the appeal shall be stayed for a period of not less than 14 days.  Even however if this Memorandum did not come so late, I would have ordered that this statutory stay be lifted in view of the fact of this case.  There is simply no basis at all as to how the legal aid application could assist the respondent.”

The asylum seeker had no lawyer and LAD was intervening to assist him.

Take note that ISS-HK did not stand up for the refugee and cut off rent assistance to him for one room.

Again ISS-HK being on the landlords side.

Also the court was on the landlord’s side preventing justice to be seen and to be done on behalf of an indigent refugee and his wife.

The court has once again failed refugees.

This is another travesty of justice.

Land Tribunal judgement LDPD 1447-2016

Hong Kong Government and Contractor ISS-HK refuse to pay rental assistance until Refugees find private sponsors to pay rent shortfall

Dec 12th, 2016 | Advocacy, Housing, Legal, Personal Experiences, VF Report, Welfare | Comment

All part of government  scheme to deprive asylum seekers of their basic needs putting them at real, immediate and personal risk
Articles 3 and 5 HKBORO Violated by ISSHK and the Government 

At a time when refugees are requesting an urgent increase in assistance because they cannot cope with rising prices in one of the most expenses cities in the world, access to government welfare is becoming more difficult. Refugees range from experienced veterans, who know how to obtain limited resources, to new arrivals, who are learning to cope with the multitude of challenges and failures of Hong Kong’s asylum sphere. In the latter group, unaccompanied, young, females often don’t enjoy a support network and might be unable to communicate in English or Chinese.

If ISS-HK cared about refugees, such women would be swiftly lodged in secure shelters to protect them from the risks and dangers of living on the streets. That wasn’t the experience of one African 24 year-old woman who escaped a trafficking ring in Fuzhou, China, to seek asylum in Hong Kong. She fears returning to her country because the criminals who tricked her into travelling overseas to work as a domestic helper would make an example of her as a warning to other women who dared to escape.

After filing a protection claim with the Immigration Department in July 2016, Elisa has been unable to rent a room for five months because the rental assistance was insufficient and her ISS-HK caseworker failed to identify and prioritize her vulnerability. With the help of a more experience refugee, she signed a tenancy agreement for a small 4500$ room in Sham Shui Po. Elisa would be responsible for half the rent and she relied upon ISS-HK to pay the landlord 1500$ as customary.

For the past ten years, refugees in need of rent assistance were required to identify a room/flat, negotiate the rent, possibly shared with others, and produce to ISS-HK a signed tenancy agreement, landlord identification, bank details and proof of ownership (to avoid unauthorized structures). Despite not speaking English, Elisa understood the requirements and adeptly met these conditions before approaching her caseworker with what she thought was a done deal. She was wrong.

Instead of praising Elisa’s success following five months of homelessness, her casework threw another challenge at her by demanding she find a “Rent Guarantor” to shoulder the surplus – or else there would be no rent assistance at all! The impediment was such that Elisa risked losing the room she secured with great difficulty and the security deposit already paid to the landlord.

For reason that Elisa does not speak English, her ISS-HK caseworker placed a phone call to a refugee friend of hers to press the demand for a Rent Guarantor. The ISS-HK officer (name withheld) warned that if Elisa failed to find a private sponsor, then the basic 1500$ in rental assistance would be denied, despite Elisa being a young and vulnerable female victim of human trafficking. 

Vision First wonders if the caseworker’s conduct was lawful, although it was morally reprehensible and shameful.

Here the the transcript of the phone conversation the ISS-HK caseworker made at 10:56 am on 7 December 2016:

Caseworker: Hello … ISS officer … yesterday I explained to you she needs to write a letter saying who is helping her with the extra rent …
Friend: Yeah, I asked her. She says about that one, she don’t know … (how to get a rent guarantor)
Caseworker: How about the other people (roommate)? Do they know who is helping with the extra money (rent surplus)?
Friend: She don’t know anything about that one …
Jesse Wong: So she has to ask the roommate, right?
Friend: She needs to ask the roommate … since last night I cannot reach him, so that is the problem.
Caseworker: Because without the letter I the case cannot be transferred to Kwun Tong (ISS-HK branch for Sham Shui Po where Elisa rented a room)And we cannot pay money!
Friend: OK, so in this case we need to call you later when we get the guy … we need to understand the case first. At the moment she cannot write any letter as she don’t know anything about that (how to get rent guarantor).
Caseworker: … like this la … because I can only transfer the case after she writes the letter so if you cannot find any friend, anyone to write the letter then the case is stuck and (ISS-HK) cannot pay money you understand right?
Friend: OK
Caseworker OK, so please tell her and the roommate to try to find anyone who can help her with the extra money … and then you call me back, OK?
Friend: OK, so I will talk to her
Caseworker: Yeah, yeah and then if she can find another friend, the she can come to Prince Edward (ISS-HK branch) to write the letter again, OK?

Vision First is outraged that ISS-HK is blatantly demanding that vulnerable refugees “find anyone who can help with the extra rent money” as a precondition to release the government assistance that the refugee community desperately relies upon.

Like many others, Elisa is a displaced refugee unfamiliar with Hong Kong and has no resident friends. It is shameful that the contractor of the Social Welfare Department presumes that Elisa can raise money for rent when she has no money, has no support network and is barred from working under threat of 15 to 22 months imprisonment.

It is highly regrettable that Elisa escaped trafficking in China only to be abused by the welfare system in Hong Kong. Here is a link to Vision First’s letter of 23 November 2016 to the Security Bureau on the disturbing problem of “Rent Guarantors”. We have a legal and moral obligation to treat refugees with respect and clearly certain caseworkers at ISS-HK fail abysmally in this respect.

Link to Audio Recording between a refugee and ISS-HK caseworker 
ISS-HK arbitrarily demands _friend to help with extra money_ as precondition for rental assistance

Asylum seekers in Hong Kong forced onto the streets over demand they find rent guarantor

Dec 12th, 2016 | Government, Housing, Legal, Media, Personal Experiences, Welfare | Comment

SCMP - Asylum seekers in Hong Kong forced onto the streets over demand they find rent guarantor - 11Dec2016

Why did Hong Kong Immigration detain Nepal’s former leader?

Dec 12th, 2016 | Immigration, Media, Racism | Comment

SCMP - Hong Kong Immigration detains former Nepali PM - 10Dec2016

SWD arbitrarily violates fundamental human rights of refugees

Dec 7th, 2016 | Advocacy, Food, Government, Housing, Immigration, Rejection, VF Opinion, Welfare | Comment

The Refugee Union published the Social Welfare Department reply to a petition requesting the urgent increase in welfare last enhanced in January 2014. Regrettably, the SWD informs that there are no plans to adjust welfare to interim inflation and skyrocketing rents after three years.

The SWD alleges that the assistance meets basic needs with 1500$ in monthly rent, 40$ a day for groceries and 200$ transportation, with zero provision for clothes, shoes, shaving cream, household detergents, reading glasses, haircuts, mattresses, blankets, cooking and kitchen ware, furniture, diapers, school supplies and transportation, credit for phones, dental service etc. The SWD also maintains that refugees require a single roll of toilet paper per month.

Magnet Effect and Mathematics

Vision First believe there is little substance in the justification that refugees should be denied anything more than a very basic assistance “so as to avoid a magnet effect.” As there is no evidence of any such “Magnet Effect”, it appears this claim is a wholly speculative allegation. Indeed, the Security Bureau and SWD in their own paper issued to the Legislative Council on 8 June 2015 admitted that they have a duty to meet the basic needs of refugees in full. Thus, the Magnet Effect would only apply to extra assistance, above and beyond meeting basic needs. 

“The Social Welfare Department (SWD) is charged with the responsibility to provide the assistance programme through non-governmental organisations (NGOs) since April 2006. The objective of the assistance programme is to ensure that non-refoulement claimants will not, during their presence in Hong Kong, become destitute. The assistance programme is not intended to provide them with extra assistance than is necessary to meet their basic needs, so as to avoid any magnet effect which may have serious implications on the sustainability of the assistance programme and on our immigration control.”

In reality, the stringency of immigration controls has not correlation with the well-being of refugees who already sought the protection of Hong Kong Government. The Immigration Department may learn from the past, but the SWD should not raise border integrity as an excuse to oppress local refugees. Further, numbers have raised manifold since aid started in 2006, suggesting that welfare is not the reason why refugees travel here. Denying adequate levels of welfare is just a policy to oppress refugees in order to encourage constructive refoulement. After six months’ of deliberation the SWD confirms that:-

“The Government considers that the current provisions are sufficient to meet the basic needs of service users and has no plan to change the arrangement at this stage.”

However, the Refugee Union’s petition reports that welfare fail to meet the basic needs of virtually all refugees. Almost without exception the assistance by SWD and ISS-HK falls short of rental amounts, utilities, food and travel money, besides lacking the above necessities. In this regard, the suggestion that refugees in need of more assistance should provide justification to ISS-HK is frankly nonsense, as the assistance requested is to meet basic needs, and not to get something above and beyond the costs of such needs.

ISS-HK caseworkers treat requests for such basic assistance with typical rejection. Refugees are actually not asking for more assistance above and beyond meeting their basic needs. They are instead asking ISS-HK and the SWD for full assistance in order to meet basic needs – the difference is crucial. There is even greater fallacy in the advice to seek assistance from ISS-HK to locate suitable rooms because the price of subdivided, cubicle and coffin rooms is close to double the rental allowance. Thus 10,000 refugees evidently “have difficulty in so doing” and caseworkers stand powerless before landlords, despite non-binding promissory letters from rent guarantors, local or overseas. Obviously landlords deem such letters non-bankable. Finally, while it is correct that tenancy agreements reflect the terms and conditions agreed between tenants and landlords, it is wholly unreasonable to expect destitute refugees without the right to work to “ensure he fulfills the responsibilities thereunder”. 

Legitimate Expectation

Vision First notes that under Hong Kong law and their own public statements, the Security Bureau and SWD have obligations to meet all basic needs of all refugees in Hong Kong. That is a legitimate expectation the refugee community relies upon. There are no exceptions under the law. It is disturbing that the conduct of these departments’ violates refugees’ rights by putting them at real and immediate risk. The Security Bureau and SWD have failed in their fiduciary duty towards destitute and highly vulnerable refugees.

SWD representations are false

The SWD’s reply to the Refugee Union’s reasonable demands is a false representation to refugees and the public that SWD meets the basic needs of protection claimants. In fact, the SWD arbitrarily violates the fundamental human rights of the vast majority of refugees in Hong Kong.

In our view, this conduct is unconscionable and unlawful as the SWD stubbornly refuses to meet refugees’ basic needs and further states that it will not review the current unsatisfactory levels of assistance. The next step will be a legal challenge. 

SWD reply to RU petition - 7Dec2016

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