The U.S. Department of Justice, Civil Rights Division, emphatically states, “Refugees and asylees are authorized to work indefinitely.” The right to work for asylum seekers is a fundamental human one which Hong Kong Government violates by selectively interpreting international treaties such as ICESCR and ICCPR.
Most people agree that no capable human being feels dignified, respected and socially worthy without employment, particularly if forced unnecessarily into Hong Kong’s inadequate welfare system.
Refugees and asylum seekers have a right to self-sufficiency and they demand the right the work. They want to productively care for their families, plan for the future, contribute to society and feel a sense of belonging while awaiting asylum decisions.
Hong Kong’s policy of partial welfare and no employment is manifestly cruel and unlawful.
It is unacceptable that 6000 human beings are moved into the community with insufficient welfare and no employment right. Whoever formulated this policy should demonstrate how to live under such inhuman conditions – it is simply impossible!
This punitive treatment fails to be an ineffective deterrent for new arrivals (effective, timely and credible screening would be) while causing mental stress and physical hardship to vulnerable individuals punished for seeking sanctuary in Asia’s World City.
Pushed to the extreme margins of society, destitute and unprotected, refugees enter the informal economy where they are unscrupulously exploited, exposed to dangerous conditions without labour protection and often jailed for up to 22 months for working illegally.
Make no mistake, every adult refugee is obliged to raise money monthly for rent, utilities, food, clothes and daily necessities. If he or she have children, financial problems compound exponentially.
Hashid explained this dire situation, ““I am here as a refugee for six years and Immigration has never interviewed me. I try my best. I don’t break the law. Sometimes I work, but what other way do I find money to survive? … I want to ask God … I cannot pay rent. I cannot pay electricity. I don’t have clothes.”
Anyone who chooses to ignore this reality is conveniently sidestepping the obvious and turning a blind eye to social injustice. Anyone who disagree with the unfairness of this situation probably earns a decent salary and returns every evening to a comfortable home.
In history it is often those who enjoy rights who justify why others shouldn’t have them.
Vision First encourages refugees to oppose welfare solutions and fight for the right to work.