Statement on the High Court’s Ruling on Foreign Domestic Workers’ Right of Abode in HK


        On 30 September 2011, the Hong Kong High Court ruled that the restrictions imposed on foreign domestic workers in the current Immigration Ordinance violated the provision in Article 24 of the Hong Kong Basic Law, on the eligibility to apply for permanent residency after having lived in Hong Kong for seven years.
        Under the existing Immigration Ordinance, non-Chinese people who have lived in Hong Kong with a legal identification document for seven years can apply to the Director of Immigration for permanent residency in Hong Kong. Having verified that the applicant takes Hong Kong as their 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 discriminatively deprived only the foreign domestic workers, of the opportunity to apply for permanent residency.
The High Court ruling on 30 September restores to domestic workers equal treatment as other migrant non-Chinese people, to possess the right to apply for residency in Hong Kong. The ruling successfully eliminates the occupational discrimination in the current Immigration Ordinance and brings along a positive message to the society. It shows Hong Kong’s core value of individual human equality, where “all are equal before the law.”
We support the High Court ruling
We are very grateful for the court’s decision. We hope that the SAR government will implement the ruling and restore the foreign domestic workers’ rightful eligibility to apply for permanent residency in Hong Kong, rather than resorting to the “violent” approach of seeking interpretation from the National People’s Congress by executive means in order to overturn the court ruling.
We respect every individual’s value and deserved dignity and the law must uphold the same.
The High Court ruling also has effectively recognized that the Hong Kong government has committed serious discrimination and injustice against the foreign domestic workers until now. The Hong Kong government and all Hong Kong society should recognize that a large number of the foreign domestic workers have been facing deep human rights violations and social and legal discrimination due to current government policies not limited to the exclusion from the right of abode, but including for example exclusion from the statutory minimum wage, the live-in requirement, the limitless working hours per day, the ‘two-week rule’ (by which they may only stay two weeks in Hong Kong after the termination of the contract) and other conditions they uniquely face.
The Hong Kong government should stop its discrimination
We call on the Hong Kong government to be the leader in advocating social and racial equality among workers and residents, and stop seeking to boost its popularity at the expense of one of the most excluded groups of workers in Hong Kong. To create a lasting harmonious society that includes foreign domestic workers fully as workers and citizens, we urge the Hong Kong government to review its current discriminatory and harmful policies on foreign domestic worker. Furthermore apologize for the past discrimination and neglect, which the High Court ruling reflects has been committed all these years, against the foreign domestic workers.
Most importantly right now, the Hong Kong government should immediately implement the High Court’s decision to remove the restrictions on foreign domestic workers in the Immigration Ordinance concerning their eligibility to apply for permanent residency after having lived in Hong Kong for 7 years.
Politicians should stop taking advantage
We strongly condemn some political groups and political parties that have been making use of the issue of “foreign domestic workers” as a means and excuse to attack other supporters, and 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 misleading the public with exaggerated figures and threatening messages. It not only discriminates against foreign domestic workers and divides Hong Kong society, but it also disregards the rule of law and respect for court decisions.
Citizens, stay calm and together seek an inclusive society
We also call on all the ordinary citizens of Hong Kong to stay calm and not be swayed by opportunistic politicians’ anti-migrant fear-mongering, but rather to rely on facts and reason, and values of an inclusive and harmonious society.
For more information, contact: Jackie Hung at 92681803 or Doris Lee at 98621736
Joint signatory groups:
1.          Justice and Peace Commission of the HK Catholic Diocese态
2.          Hong Kong Women Workers' Association
3.          A Generation
4.          League of Social Democrats
5.          HK Catholic Commission for Labour Affairs
6.          Hong Kong Christian Industrial Committee
7.          HK Confederation of Trade Unions
8.          Civil Humans Right Front
9.          HK Unison
10.      Mission for Migrant Workers – Hong Kong
11.      Half The Sky Public Education
12.      Indonesian migrant workers union (IMWU)
13.      League of Indonesian Migrant workers (LIPMI)
14.      Association of Indonesian migrant workers in Hong Kong (ATKI-HK)
15.      United Indonesians against overcharging (PILAR)
16.      Indonesian migrant Muslim alliance (GAMMI)
17.      Asian Migrants' Coordinating Body (AMCB)
18.      Abra Tinguian Ilocano Society (ATIS)
19.      Cordillera Alliance in Hong Kong (CORALL-HK)
20.      Filipino Migrant Workers' Union (FMWU)
21.      United Filipinos in Hong Kong (UNIFIL-MIGRANTE-HK)
22.      United Pangasinan Hong Kong (UPHK)
23.      Bayan HK
24.      Gabriela HK
25.      District Board Office of Mr To Kwan Hang, Andrew
26.      Open Door
27.      Back to Christ Alliance
28.      Green Radio
29.      Narrow Church
30.      Hong Kong Federation of Students
31.      LEFT 21
32.      Kowloon Union Church
33.      One Body in Christ
34.      Hong Kong Federation of Asian Domestic Workers Unions (FADWU)
35.      Women Coalition of HK
36.      Right of Abode University
37.      Right Of Abode Committee
38.      HK Human rights monitor
39.      Autonomous 8A
40.      Hong Kong Christian Institute
41.      The Association for the Advancement of Feminism
42.      Hong Kong Women's Coalition on Equal Opportunities
Our work in the near Future:
1.          Online signature campaign (Organizational & Personal): http://www.gopetition.com/petitions/end-discrimination-against-hk-foreign-domestic-workers.html
2.          Candlelight Vigil on Sunday, 23 October at 6:30 p.m. to express the solidarity between local and migrant Hong Kong residents, in pursuit of a Hong Kong with no discrimination. Join us!