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Ex-lover of ‘NPA’ loses bid for review of her deportation

03 December 2018

The High Court

By Vir B. Lumicao

A Filipina asylum-seeker who says she would be killed by her ex-boyfriend whom she suspects to be a New People’s Army member, has failed in her court bid to stop the government sending her back to the Philippines.

The application for judicial review of Riah Mae Esquillo was refused on Nov 20 by Deputy High Court Judge Josiah Lam, who said her complaints were not “reasonably arguable”.

Esquillo, 37, sought the review after the Torture Claims Appeal Board/Non-refoulement Claims Petition Office refused on Sept 29 last year her appeal against the Immigration Director’s dismissal of her claim filed 10 months earlier.

In the government’s two-tier Unified Screening Mechanism process, the Director screens a non-refoulement claim (or an application against deportation) first. If rejected, the applicant may appeal to the TCAB, which would order a rehearing.

On Dec 9, 2016, the Director decided Esquillo did not face any risk that warranted non-refoulement, based on all the four applicable grounds: torture risk, persecution risk, risk of risk of torture or cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment, and risk of violation of the right to life.

Judge Lam upheld both the director and the TCAB, saying the decision to send Esquillo back was made under “rigorous examination and anxious scrutiny” and without errors of law.

He also said the TCAB had given Equillo reasonable and sufficient opportunities to state her case. On the other hand, none of Esquillo’s fears was substantiated, he said.

Esquillo came to Hong Kong to work as a domestic helper in March 2002. She said she escaped from Joel, the abusive father of her three children who allegedly had assaulted her and threatened to kill her several times. She suspected Joel was an NPA.

She said while she was in Hong Kong, Joel called her on a number of occasions. He threatened to kill her if she returned to the Philippines. When her work contract was terminated prematurely in August 2012, she was allowed to stay here temporarily to deal with a financial dispute with her agency.

When the issue was finally settled on Jan 25, 2013, Esquillo did not leave Hong Kong and overstayed for 2 years and 8 months before she surrendered to the Immigration.

Still refusing to go back home because of her fears, she applied for non-refoulement.


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