Pro-Beijing lawmaker Holden Chow has submitted a motion to the Legislative Council to combat “bogus refugees,” which he says have been a problem that “has become increasingly serious in recent years,” according to a document he submitted.

Chow, who represents the Democratic Alliance for the Betterment and Progress of Hong Kong (DAB), said in the document that many had abused the refugee screening mechanism “by lodging non-refoulement claims and employing every means to prolong the screening procedures.”

Holden Chow. File photo: Stanley Leung/HKFP.

“They stay in Hong Kong for the purpose of engaging in illegal employment and even serious criminal activities, etc., so as to make money[.] The abuse of the unified screening mechanism has aroused grave public concern, and exerted heavy pressure on Hong Kong’s law and order, immigration control, judicial system, welfare, etc,” he alleged.

The motion asks that the Legislative Council urge the government to “comprehensively review the unified screening mechanism, and actively consider adopting the approaches in overseas places to formulate measures to combat the arrival of ‘bogus refugees’…”

Photo: HKFP.

Non-refoulement protection can include claims of torture, cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or persecution and punishment.

Earlier in October, Kowloon West legislator Ann Chiang Lai-wan, also of the DAB, called upon authorities to crack down upon “fake” refugees after a knife attack incident in Yau Ma Tei. The perpetrators and the victim were all of South Asian origin. In April, the party also called for “fake” refugees to be put in camps and deported, handing out pamphlets calling upon the government to “close the policy loophole.”

Decrease in claims

Victoria Otero, advocacy and campaigns manager at the Justice Centre, told HKFP: “The increased concern about [unified screening mechanism] claimants doesn’t add up with the government’s own statistics that show that the number of claims filed each quarter has [steadily] decreased since 2014.”

File photo: Supplied.

“Charged and inaccurate language like ‘bogus refugees’ is wholly unacceptable and should not have any place in policy-making. This kind of rhetoric may only increase public misunderstanding, negative stereotyping and xenophobia,” she added.

Photo: Justice Centre report citing Panel on Security statistics.

She said that the Justice Centre welcomes all newly elected lawmakers concerned with refugees to learn more about the issue by talking with refugees, as well as organisations and professionals working on the matter.

Chantal Yuen

Chantal Yuen is a Hong Kong journalist interested in issues dealing with religion and immigration. She majored in German and minored in Middle Eastern studies at Princeton University.