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No-show Pinay and twin daughters fail in bid to stop deportation

21 September 2018

A Filipina who claims her ex-partner might kill her and her twin daughters if they returned home has lost her bid for a judicial review of the government’s decision to deny their application for non-refoulement, or against deportation.

The Court of First Instance rejected on Sept 7 the application for leave to apply for a judicial review filed by Jeneth Pepito who was not in court. The court said it was not convinced of her ground for appealing the dismissals by the Immigration director and Torture Claim Appeal Board of her application for non-refoulement.

The High Court, where the Court of First Instance is located.
Pepito had asked for more time to apply for leave for herself and her daughters Zainab Iftikhar Ahmed and Ayesha Iftikhar Ahmed, on the ground that they were not represented in their appeal before the Board, and they were not assisted by an interpreter.

But after considering the documents and as the applicant was absent, Judge Bruno Chan refused to extend the deadline for applying for leave, and dismissed Pepito’s application.

The judge said Pepito was able to argue her case fully when she appeared before the Director. She was able to testify and make representation in the appeal hearing before the TCAB and to answer questions put to her by the adjudicator without difficulty, Chan said. 

“I do not find anything amiss arising from the lack of legal representation in the appeal process, and I do not think this ground is reasonably arguable,” Bruno said.

The judge also said that a rigorous scrutiny of the decisions of both the director and the TCAB, failed to show any error of law or procedural unfairness, nor did they fail to apply high standards of fairness in considering the applicant’s claim.

Pepito, 33, last arrived in Hong Kong on Apr 9, 2015 to work as a domestic helper. She overstayed after May 8, 2015 when she was dismissed prematurely.

The Filipina surrendered to Immigration on July 20, 2015 and filed for non-refoulement, claiming that if she returned home, she would be harmed or killed by her former common-law husband, a certain “JE”, after he learned that she bore two daughters by a Pakistani man. 

Pepito gave birth to her twin daughters on Oct 29, 2015 in Hong Kong. She subsequently also lodged a non-refoulement claim for the girls, citing the same grounds.

In her application, Pepito, a native of Dolores, Abra, said she started living with JE after her
studies, and they had a son and a daughter. She claimed JE had been abusive when drunk, at one time breaking her nose with a punch and threatening her with a kitchen knife. 

On Aug 11, 2016, the director of Immigration rejected Pepito and her daughters’ claim on all
applicable grounds, including risk of torture, risk of torture or cruel, inhuman or degrading
treatment or punishment, and risk of persecution, saying the risks were low.

On Jan 4, 2017, he refused their claim again because of their failure to submit additional facts that may be relevant to their non-refoulement claim.

By then, Pepito’s appeal to the TCAB filed on Aug 29, 2016, on behalf of herself and her daughters against the earlier decision of the director, was in progress. On Jun 30, 2017, the appeal was dismissed and the Board confirmed the decisions of the director.

Pepito applied for leave for a judicial review of both decisions on Dec 7, 2017, but did not include her two daughters as co-applicants, nor did she attend the oral hearing, Bruno said. – Vir B. Lumicao

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