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Pinay ordered jailed; court rejects ‘trafficking’ claim

19 March 2017

By The SUN staff

The lawyer of a Filipina who claims to have worked for nearly six years for a Chinese employer with hardly any pay is set to go to the High Court to appeal a magistrate’s decision to convict the migrant worker for overstaying her visa.

Barrister Phillip Ross indicated his next move after Shatin magistrate Ivy Chui convicted Analyn P. Dumawag, 36, of overstaying on Mar. 6, despite defense claims that the Filipina was a victim of human trafficking and did not overstay by her own choice.

Ross also plans to file a case for judicial review against the magistrate’s decision to proceed with hearing the case, arguing that it is government policy not to prosecute victims of human trafficking.
Apart from these, he could also go to the District Court on Dumawag’s behalf to seek payment for the $150,000 that the Filipina said she was owed for working without pay for 38 months for her former employer.

Ross applied for bail pending appeal for the defendant, which the magistrate allowed.
Dumayag broke into tears just before Chiu sentenced her to five and a half months in jail for breaching Immigration laws by overstaying.

The Filipina came to Hong Kong in March 2008 to purportedly to work for a certain Ms Chau. But Chau passed the Filipina on to her daughter, Leung Mei-ling, who lived in Wong Tai sin, to perform house chores and take care of Leung’s 19-year-old mentally handicapped son.

When Chau died in March 2010, Leung retained Dumayag but did not submit the work contract and visa application to the Immigration Department.

Leung also allegedly kept the maid’s passport and did not pay her monthly salary for 38 months, from 2009 to 2015.

In November last year, Dumayag asked the court to stop her trial because she was a human trafficking victim, but Chui rejected her petition.

Dumayag also failed in her bid to get the Labour Tribunal to award her $150,000 in unpaid wages. The Tribunal dismissed the case on the ground that she was working in Hong Kong illegally as she did not have an employment contract.

In her verdict on March 6, Chui said she considered but was not satisfied with Dumayag’s claim that she was a human trafficking victim deprived of liberty to move around and to communicate with other people.

Chui said the defendant failed to support her claim with evidence.

“I was satisfied that the Immigration Department had properly investigated her claim and found out she was no victim of trafficking,” the magistrate said.

The magistrate also said she had considered Dumayag’s claim that she was not aware she was already overstaying in Hong Kong when she continued working for Leung after her employer.

“After Chau died in 2009, she was asked by Leung to sign a new contract and she should have gone to the Immigration to apply…but she continued to work for Leung without a new work visa,” Chui said.

The magistrate cited that the dismissal of the defendant’s claim for unpaid wages was because she had worked and stayed illegally in Hong Kong.

Chui said after carefully considering all the evidence, she had no doubt that the defendant was guilty and convicted her of the charge.

Defense counsel Ross stood up to point out evidence the magistrate had not considered before reaching her verdict, particularly on UN conventions on human trafficking.

The magistrate told the defense counsel to write down all the points that he contested and “go through the formalities”.

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