"Hong Kong does not need laws against human trafficking, says government: victims are routinely criminalised, says Bar Association"Raquel Carvalho
South China Morning Post
12 June 2016
The government has dismissed the need to introduce an anti-trafficking law and said such crime is not common in the city, even though legal experts say victims are criminalised instead of being protected and the issue is affecting Hong Kong’s international image.
Despite critical reports which describe Hong Kong as a destination, transit point and source of human trafficking and point out serious flaws in the government’s approach, a spokeswoman for the Security Bureau said that the occurrence of human trafficking in the city was “rare”. The bureau noted that “solid and proven” legal frameworks were already in place.
Enhanced measures were introduced in the past year, “in particular regarding victim identification and referral, and in the protection of foreign domestic helpers,” a spokeswoman said in a written response.
Police and the Immigration Department are also planning to revise in the coming months “their victim identification guidelines ,” the spokeswoman noted, without elaborating on the details of the review.
International groups as well as local legal experts and NGO workers have urged the government to improve protection for victims and introduce an anti-trafficking law.
“Victims of human trafficking face an adversarial legal system through and through,” Puja Kapai, associate professor of law at the University of Hong Kong, said, noting that the number of identified victims underestimated the extent of the problem.
“In general, there’s no balance of power – from immigration procedures, language barriers to a lack of sympathy from frontline law enforcement officers inclined to use aggressive tactics to have victims admit transgressions,” the High Court barrister said.
The legal expert has no doubt that the prevalence of labour trafficking in Hong Kong is an issue that is affecting the city’s international image... Click here to read the full article.