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121 Filipinos in Hong Kong prisons at end-’15, up 14%

31 March 2016

There were 121 Filipinos in Hong Kong jails serving sentences for various offenses led by trafficking in dangerous drugs and theft as of the end of December 2015, an increase of 14.2% from the same period last year, according to figures from the Consulate.
The statistics, gleaned from visits of staff of the assistance to nationals section to the SAR’s prisons last year, was alarmingly dominated by drug trafficking cases, which climbed 23.3% to 37  last year, from 30.
Officers of the ATN section, however, explained that the data do not reflect the actual number of Filipinos sentenced to jail for both last year and 2014, as most of the prison sentences lasted less than a year.
So, there could be more Filipino inmates in any given month than in December, but if most of them were sentenced for only two to six months, they would not reflect on the figures culled as of the end of the year.
The dominance of drug trafficking convicts in the 2015 statistics carried over from the previous years as the offense carries a maximum sentence of life imprisonment and a $5 million fine.
But none of the mostly Filipino women who were in Hong Kong’s maximum security prisons last year for drug offenses was serving a life sentence.
The other crime with a maximum sentence of life imprisonment is murder, for which two Filipinos are now in jail. Theft was the second-most common offense by Filipinos in Hong Kong, with 29 persons locked up as of Dec 31, 2015, or 13% more than the 26 inmates as of the end of 2014.
Not all the offenders, however, are OFWs; about half of the number comprised thieves coming to Hong Kong as tourists to pick pockets or steal jewelry while others were torture claimants or Filipino residents here who were caught burgling homes or business premises, or shoplifting.
The third most common offense was breach of condition of stay, for which 12 Filipino domestic helpers were in detention as of end-December. They were found to have worked outside their contractual addresses or were doing illegal work.  This was double the number posted at the end of 2014.
Another offense, overstaying, landed 10 Filipinos in prison last year, compared with 6 in 2014.
There were 8 convicted burglars in 2015, compared with 6 in the previous year.
ATN officers gathered the statistics during visits to various prisons around Hong Kong. – Vir B. Lumicao

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