The Right to Work for all refugees

Post Date: Nov 18th, 2013 | Categories: Advocacy | COMMENT

Government concerns over opening a floodgate to refugees coming to our city to work, were policy changes implemented, such as granting them the right to work, are unjustified, says a new article by Chinese University scholars Michael Ramsden and Luke Marsh.

Using the Ma v Director of Immigration case, the authors offer comprehensive understanding of government views on refugees and strategies that should be implemented to successfully challenge the stringent employment policy with regard to refugees.

Importantly, from Vision First’s perspective, a convincing link is made between the excessive time refugees are made to wait in Hong Kong before a durable solution is found for them and the likeliness that prolonged unemployment causes a deterioration of their mental health.

This in turn is most likely to result in refugees agreeing to ‘voluntary departures’ to take their chances in their country of origin. In fact, in order to escape a protracted period of waiting while living at the margins of society, refugees would rather travel back home to face the dangers they had once escaped.

Vision First is a proponent of the idea that current government restriction on refugees working in the formal economy is cruel and unreasonable. We learn from this article that only when the refugee mental health is challenged does the director of immigration consider whether to grant permission, on exceptional circumstances, to grant work rights.

However, the threshold for claiming such ‘exceptional circumstances’ is so high that we question whether there is any willingness to effectively consider granting refugee rights on an individual basis.

This paper explores possible ways for refuges in Hong Kong to assert these rights and calls for a cogent administrative framework that has proper regard to a wide range of rights-based considerations in the assessment of refugee work authorization requests.

The ‘Right to Work’ of Refugees in Hong Kong: MA v Director of Immigration

Given Hong Kong’s general policy not to grant asylum it is apparent that little attempt is made to integrate refugees into society … Life as an individual is not all about survival and subsistence. This treatment places refugees in a position of destitution and denial of individual dignity (and is equivalent to CIDTP torture).

Forcing refugees to wait 5-7 years without work and income is torture