Responsive Ad Slot




Buhay Pinay



Philippine News

Join us at Facebook!

Making human trafficking a crime in HK pushed

18 August 2017

“Hong Kong, being a First World city, has to do more to tackle the problem.”

By Vir B. Lumicao

There were up to 2,000 human trafficking cases in Hong Kong last year, including Filipina job seekers who ended up as sex workers in Wanchai and Mongkok.

The figure was much higher than the 36 cases reported by the government for the same period.

Civil society leaders who held a press conference on Aug 1 at the Legislative Council said this was mainly due to a lack of laws that criminalize trafficking.

They used the conference to introduce a new bill on modern slavery, and launch a petition urging the government and Chief Executive Carrie Lam to “take immediate steps to criminalize human trafficking in all forms”.

The Hong Kong Anti-Trafficking Group also called for providing “appropriate channels for redress for victims against abusers and exploiters.”

Legco Member Dennis Kwok introduced the “Modern Slavery Bill 2017” and said he intends to bring it before Legco for discussion, possibly as a Private Members Bill.

“We will push, if necessary, for a Private Members’ Bill to legislate against human trafficking, and to raise more awareness within the community… so that more people would understand the urgent need for Hong Kong to do more to tackle (the issue),” said Kwok.

“Hong Kong, being a First World city, has to do more to tackle the problem.”

The US State Department’s Trafficking in Persons Report for 2017 retained Hong Kong on the Tier 2 Watch List for the second year running, indicating that there are problems of human trafficking and forced labor in Hong Kong.

The government has said there are enough laws to deal with the problem.

But human rights lawyer Patricia Ho disputed that, saying these pieces of legislation, such as the Criminal Ordinance, Labor Ordinance and Employment Ordinance and others, deal only with “bits and pieces” of the crime.

She cited Section 129 of the Criminal Ordinance which criminalizes the taking of a person in or out of Hong Kong for the purpose of prostitution, but does not take into account elements of trafficking involved in the act as defined by the Palermo Protocol.

Ho said NGOs focusing on trafficking issues as well as lawyers in the field have been establishing a fairly clear picture of how human trafficking is happening in Hong Kong.

This involves luring women from Brazil, Colombia and Venezuela and sending them to Hong Kong via Dubai with huge quantities of drugs, or to work in the sex trade.

Women from the Philippines, Thailand and other Asian countries are enticed with attractive job offers but they end up working as prostitutes in Hong Kong’s red light districts. Even Hong Kong teenagers end up getting caught in this trap, Ho said.

On the other hand, South Asian and Vietnamese men, some of them engineers, are brought to Hong Kong and end up working on farms in the New Territories or in back kitchens in the city.

“In a way, we’re wanting to put to the government that they need to do two things: No.1, that they need to bring traffickers to justice, and, No.2, to protect victims to give them a chance to have a normal life again,” Ho said.

Cynthia Ca Abdon-Tellez, general manager of Mission for Migrant Workers, said the absence of clear legislation led to victims being imprisoned, while their traffickers went scot-free.

Eman C. Villanueva, spokesperson of Asian Migrants’ Coordinating Body, said little attention had been paid to the trafficking and abuse of migrant workers, leading to severe incidents of abuse such as the Erwiana case.

Azan Marwah, one of the drafters of the Modern Slavery Bill, said the proposed law comprehensively defines and criminalizes all internationally recognized forms of slavery and human trafficking by amending the Crimes Ordinance (Cap.200).

The bill would also expand the definition of “organized crime” in the Organized and Serious Crimes Ordinance (Cap.455), he said.

Marwah said this would allow law enforcement to target trafficking syndicates and those who deal in the proceeds of slavery and human trafficking.

Mabel Au, director of Amnesty International, said the definition of “trafficking” does not meet the internationally accepted definition in the United Nations’ Palermo Protocol. This creates loopholes in the law, limiting the power of the authorities to target criminals.

Don't Miss