Five homeless people whose property was thrown away by the government have been awarded compensation totalling around HK$23,000. However, the government has yet to apologise.

The street sleepers had been taking shelter at the Ching Ping Street underpass in Yau Ma Tei, RTHK reported. Earlier, 20 of them submitted a claim with the court, saying that the Yau Tsim Mong Home Affairs Department along with the Food and Environmental Hygiene Department and the police, threw away their personal belongings without prior notice when clearing out the area last July. They sought from the government compensation of around HK$160,000 in total.

File Photo: Stephanie Teng.

On Thursday, five of the litigants reached an agreement with the Department of Justice at the Small Claims Tribunal, a court that deals with claims under HK$50,000. They were each awarded compensation sums ranging from HK$1,610 to HK$8,820.

With regards to an apology, the representative from the Department of Justice said that he was still awaiting further instructions from his superiors, Ming Pao reported.

The case has been adjourned to September 29, as some of the other 15 claimants who did not show up for the hearing have become uncontactable, or have been hospitalised or jailed. Since the Small Claims Tribunal is currently in the process of moving to a new location in West Kowloon, the court will notify them of the venue of the hearing.

Photo: judiciary.gov.hk.

The street sleepers, along with NGO The Society for Community Organization (SoCO), gathered outside the Wan Chai District Court on Wednesday, demanding that the government apologise, Headline Daily reported.

SoCO Spokesperson Ng Wai-tung said the government only awarded an amount that was around 40 to 50 per cent of what the litigants asked for, and criticised them for delaying the case for 11 months.

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Karen is a journalist and writer covering politics and legal affairs in Hong Kong for HKFP. She has also written features on human rights, public space, regional legal developments, social and grassroots activism, and arts & culture. She is a BA and LLB graduate from the University of Hong Kong.