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Filipina DH fails to convince High Court to order review of her human trafficking claim

24 April 2022

The High Court, where the case was resolved via a mixed personal and zoom hearing
A Filipina former domestic helper has failed to convince the High Court to review her lower court conviction for an immigration violation on the ground that she was a victim of human trafficking.

Court of First Instance Judge Russel Coleman dismissed the application of “AM” for leave to apply for judicial review because “I do not think the merits of AM’s proposed challenge are so strong as to point to the grant of the necessary significant period of extension of time.”


Judge Coleman explained, in a ruling released on Friday: “That I do so should not be taken as a lack of sympathy for the plainly difficult situation in which AM found herself to be caught up.  … there is at least a decent argument that – whatever the basis of her own involvement in events – it was perhaps regrettable that no other persons faced prosecution for their involvement in the same events.  But I do not think that possible regret gives rise to any public law criticism.”

AM, 61, was convicted in June 2016 of “making false representation to an immigration officer” and sentenced to two months’ imprisonment. 


She was penalized for lying to an immigration officer on Jan. 14, 2013, as she was re-entering from China, that a certain Eddie Chiang Kwun Nam was her employer.

In her appeal to the CFI,  she claimed that the crime was a result of her being a victim of trafficking.

AM said she was recruited by a Martin Ng Kwok Fai (“Martin”) to work for Eddie, supposedly on her eighth contract since arriving in Hong Kong in 2000.


But instead of working for Eddie, Martin made her run a boarding house (at the Mainland side of Lok Ma Chau) for Indonesian girls waiting to get employed.

She based her appeal on the alleged failure of the Director of Immigration, Commissioner of Police and the Secretary of Justice to conduct any or any effective investigation into her claim of being a victim of forced and/or compulsory labour, since February 2014, if not before, Judge Coleman said.

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But based on court rules her appeal should have been filed three months after the conviction.

The judge said AM failed to offer any explanation "for the substantial delay between at least mid-2016 and mid-2019."

He added, "Further, even though there is some explanation for the delay from mid-2019, relating to the pursuit of Legal Aid and some interruption from the pandemic restrictions, against the previous chronology I do not think waiting for legal aid is a good enough reason to justify extending the time considerably further."


In the meantime, the case file was destroyed in 2018 in accordance with standing procedures, and so even if “some aspects of the file could be recreated from other sources, the materials are incomplete, and it is obvious that reliance on recollection after such a long period is problematic,” he added.

He also noted that, contrary to AM’s claim, her allegations against those who supposedly trafficked her were investigated by police, but were eventually dropped for insufficient evidence.
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