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Overstayed DH jailed 8 months as asylum bid fails

08 November 2016

Shatin courthouse entrance.
A former domestic helper was sent to jail for eight months by a Shatin magistrate on Tuesday, Nov 8, for overstaying, after failing to gain temporary asylum in Hong Kong for an alleged threat to her life in the Philippines.

In three other immigration cases at the court,  a Filipino tourist who overstayed his visa for 16 days was sentenced to two weeks in jail but suspended for three years, while two former helpers charged with breach of condition of stay had their cases reset for mention in December pending the results of their applications for torture claim.

Evangeline Zabala pleaded guilty to a charge of overstaying in Hong Kong for two years and two months before Magistrate Andrew Ma at Shatin Court.

“Defendant, you are convicted on your own admission of the charge,” Ma said,
and handed her the discounted sentence that took into account her plea.

The prosecutor told the court that Zabala, 50, surrendered to Immigration authorities last month after the Torture Claims Board rejected her application for torture claim, the prosecution told the court. If the claim had been approved, Zabala would have been entitled to stay in Hong Kong while her claim was being processed, plus rent money and food allowance.

The mother of three came to Hong Kong on Oct 14, 2010 to work as a domestic worker but was terminated by her employer on Aug. 28 the following year.

Failing to find a new employer during the 14-day extension of her visa, Zabala stayed on illegally in Hong Kong.

On Oct 8, 2013, she surrendered to the Immigration Department and applied for non-refoulement so she would not be sent back home, citing fear for her life because her husband was allegedly engaged in illegal activities. Her application was rejected last month and she turned herself in to the Immigration authorities.

Magistrate Ma adjourned the hearing of charges against overstayed former domestic workers to Feb 8 for Veronica Quebedo and Dec 6 for Robina Carolino, both former domestic workers, pending the results of their applications for torture claim.

Meanwhile, Kelvin Jeremias, who came to Hong Kong as a tourist, received a two-week jail sentence suspended for three years after overstaying in Hong Kong for 16 days. He surrendered to Immigration officers in September.  

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