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Filipino fleeing creditor fails to get review of asylum rejection

09 July 2024


The decision was handed down at the High Court (Google Maps photo)

A Filipino who fled to Hong Kong to escape a creditor he did not pay back in the Philippines and then overstayed from Feb. 28, 2015, has failed to convince the High Court to review the disapproval of his application for protection against forced return to the Philippines.

“The Court will not usurp the fact-finding power vested in the Director (of Immigration) and the (Torture Claims Appeal) Board,” according to the Court of First Instance decision ordered by Deputy High Court Judge K.W. Lung and released today.

Joel Juniller, 49 years old, claimed that he was a street vendor when he met a woman who convinced him to open a store with her as his partner. She introduced him to a creditor who lent him cash to start with.


After he turned over the loan proceeds to his partner, she disappeared. Unable to pay and back on the street, he was approached by the creditor and a man who pointed a gun at his neck and warned that he would be killed if he did not pay in three months.

Juniller said he fled in fear to Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia and Thailand, before ending up as a visitor in Hong Kong on Feb. 26, 2015 and was given four days to stay. Having overstayed, he surrendered to the Immigration Department on March 11, 2015 and made a non-refoulement claim the same day.  

The Immigration director rejected his application three years later, on March 19, 2018, saying that his reason for applying for asylum does not meet the requirements of the 1951 Convention relating to the Status of Refugees and its 1967 Protocol.

He appealed to the Board but it affirmed, without holding a hearing, the earlier decision and described his case as “purely a private money dispute with no state involvement.”

Appealing to the CFI, Juniller said the rulings should be reviewed because he was not given a hearing by the Board nor was he advised to submit written submissions, and that the “lack of credible source of information has resulted in them making groundless speculations that it is safe for him to return back to his country.”

But the court decision, signed by M.O. Wong for the High Court registrar, asserted: “The Board was entitled to make such finding.”

It also noted that the court itself granted his request for a hearing, but Juniller did not show up on the hearing date of May 6, 2014.

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