2011-09-30
Foreign Domestic Helpers’ Right of Abode in Hong Kong

 

30 September 2011
 
Justice and Peace Commission’s Statement on the High Court’s Ruling on
 Foreign Domestic Helpers’ Right of Abode in Hong Kong
 
        On 30 September 2011, the Hong Kong High Court ruled that the restrictions imposed on foreign domestic helpers in the current “Immigration Ordinance” violated the provision on the eligibility to apply for permanent residency after having lived in Hong Kong for seven years in Article 24 of the “Hong Kong Basic Law.” We are very grateful to the court decision and hope that the SAR government will implement the ruling to scrap the restrictions on the foreign domestic helpers who are eligible to apply for permanent residency in Hong Kong instead of resorting to the “violent” approach to seek interpretation from the National People’s Congress by executive means to overturn the court ruling.
 
        Under the existing ordinance, non-Chinese people who are not working as foreign domestic helpers and have lived in Hong Kong with legal identification document for seven years can apply to the Director of Immigration for permanent residency in Hong Kong. Having verified that the applicant views Hong Kong as permanent residence, the Department of Immigration will then approve the application. However, the provisions in the “Immigration Ordinance” amended during the Provisional Legislative Council after the handover stipulated that there were the restrictions on foreign domestic helpers, depriving them of the opportunity to apply for permanent residency.
 
        This ruling is to give domestic helpers the equal treatment as other non-Chinese people to possess the right to apply for residency in Hong Kong. They will also need to undergo the approval of the Department of Immigration.
 
        As a church organization, we respect every individual’s value and deserved dignity. Therefore, we welcome the court ruling which successfully eliminates the occupational discrimination in the current “Immigration Ordinance” and bring along a positive message to the society. It also shows Hong Kong’s core value of “all are equal before the law.”
 
        We strongly condemn some political groups and political parties that they make use of the issue of “foreign domestic helpers” as means and excuse attacking other supporters or aiming to win votes and increase their political assets. We hereby call on all political parties and political groups in Hong Kong to win electorates’ support through credibility, political achievements or other positive messages and stop blackening or misleading the public to split the Hong Kong society. It not only discriminate against foreign domestic helpers, but it also disregards the rule of law and the respect of court decisions.
 
        The Justice and Peace Commission of the Hong Kong Catholic Diocese demands:
 
1.      That the Hong Kong government should immediately implement the High Court’s decision to remove the restrictions on foreign domestic helpers concerning the provision on eligibility to apply for permanent residency after having lived in Hong Kong in the “Immigration Ordinance.”
2.      That the Hong Kong government should review its current policy on foreign domestic helpers, including scrapping the legal provisions of requiring foreign domestic helpers to find a new employer in two weeks after the end of employment contract and improve monitoring of illegal employment agencies and lift the restrictions on requiring foreign domestic helpers to live in the employer’s home so as to ensure that foreign domestic helpers are treated equally as local workers.
3.      All political parties and political groups should stop spreading threatening messages and exaggerated figures to mislead the society and disrespect the court ruling.
 
Contact person: Ms. Jackie Hung 2560 3865,9268 1803