Responsive Ad Slot




Buhay Pinay



Business Ideas for OFWs

Join us at Facebook!

Anger at ‘system abuse’ as pregnant torture claimant bids to stay in HK

02 June 2016

By Vir B. Lumicao

A pregnant Filipina torture claimant petitioned the High Court on May 17 for a judicial review of her application for non-refoulement, which had been twice denied by the Hong Kong Immigration Department.
The petition, filed by Jocelyn Urbiztondo, was heard by the Court of First Instance a day after a magistrate in another court chafed at what she called “abuse of the system by people who are not genuine refugees”.
Principal Magistrate Bina Chainrai of the Eastern Court blasted the prosecution after noticing that a 2011 charge of breach of condition of stay against a former domestic helper was still unresolved because she had filed a torture claim. Chainrai noted that Rosalie Limalima was convicted of soliciting for an immoral purpose in 2014 and had already served her two-month prison sentence but was still in Hong Kong because of her torture claim.
In the High Court, Urbiztondo reiterated her grounds for her non-refoulement petition before Judge Douglas Yau, claiming she feared for her life if she returned to the Philippines because she would be tortured by people from whom she owed money.
Urbiztondo, a former domestic helper who said she had been in Hong Kong for the past eight years, had her non-refoulement claim turned down by the Immigration Department. She lodged an appeal with the Torture Claim Appeals Board, but it was rejected.
Torture claimants like Urbiztondo and LimaLima are allowed to remain in Hong Kong by virtue of recognizance of their pending claims by the Immigration Department. But they have to apply for non-refoulement, which protects them against deportation.
Yau asked Urbiztondo why she was applying for non-refoulement, and the petitioner told the judge through an interpreter her concern. “I am applying because my life will be endangered if I go back to the Philippines. I fear for my life that’s why I asked the Immigration Department to extend my stay in Hong Kong,” Urbiztondo said.
“Apart from that, do you have anything else to say?” Yau asked.
The woman stalled for a few seconds, then said she was seven months pregnant by her boyfriend, a Pakistani resident of Hong Kong.
“Why don’t you get married if you want to be a resident of Hong Kong?” Yau asked.
Urbiztondo replied she and her boyfriend had no plans yet, as the man was in Pakistan to spend Ramadan with his family. She said he would be back in Hong Kong June 6.
The judge said he needed some time to study the petition and advised Urbiztondo that the court would mail the judgment to her.
Over at Eastern Court, Chainrai blew her top when she saw Limalima’s case on her desk. “This case is dated 2011, what are you doing with it?” she asked when the prosecutor applied for a three-month adjournment, as the defendant had filed a torture claim.
Chainrai said the woman was convicted of soliciting last year while she had a pending case of breach of condition of stay.
“Don’t you think this is abuse of the system by those who are not genuine refugees? I think there should come a time when the Justice Department takes a stand on this abuse of the system,” she said.
She adjourned the hearing until Aug 16 and instructed Limalima to expedite matters.

Don't Miss