Number of illegal immigrants on the rise
Islamabad—Officials of the Immigration Department of the Government of Hong Kong Special Administrative Region have conveyed serious concerns to their Pakistani counterparts with regard to hike in number of illegal immigrants in Hong Kong from Pakistan. Approximately, every month we come across 100 Pakistanis who either surrender themselves after arrival or the immigration department and Hong Kong police nab them during crackdown against the illegal settlers/entrants in Hong Kong. This was said by Ronald N W Fung Assistant Director of Immigration Department, The Government of Hong Kong Special Administrative Region while talking to a select group of media persons here Monday. He said, since 2014, more than 5000 cases of illegal immigrants have been registered and majority of them belong to either South Asian nations especially Pakistan, India, Bangladesh. He said a mechanism has been agreed between the two governments for deportation of illegal Pakistani immigrants back to their country.
These illegal immigrants in order to escape deportation invoke immigration laws and claim they have been subjected to torture or inhuman treatment or persecution, said he. Mr Fung said only 13 cases out of the 5000 were found genuine and the rest invoked immigration on false basis.
Mr Fung who is heading a 4-member delegation and held hectic meetings with Pakistani counterparts earlier in the day, gave a clear message that if found living illegally in Hong Kong they would face legal action and that includes maximum imprisonment up to 3 years or $50,000 fine. The legal and just way for immigration or employment in Hong Kong is to apply from one’s country through proper channel, he said.
Speaking high of the Pakistani community that is living legally and mostly businessmen, Mr Fung said Pakistanis are contributing to the Hong Kong society in various fields and their role is viewed and greatly appreciated by the government of Hong Kong but those trying to live illegally are creating problems for the government, themselves and also for the legal community by giving them bad name.
“There were 686 Pakistani illegal immigrants intercepted by the Immigration Department and Hong Kong Police in 2015 which increased by 92pc as compared with the year of 2014,” he said.
By studying their travel patterns, routings, travel documents in hand and other information, it has been noticed that some of the Pakistani illegal immigrants are assisted or enticed by couriers into human smuggling activities.
To a question, Mr Fung said the 1951 United Nations Convention relating to the Status of Refugees and its 1967 Protocol has never applied to Hong Kong, and illegal immigrants seeking non-refoulement under the Unified Screening Mechanism in Hong Kong are not to be treated as “asylum seekers” or “refugees”.
They will not be offered legal status to settle in Hong Kong, regardless of the result of their non-refoulement claim (which only offers them temporary suspension of removal). In fact, the Hong Kong Government has a long-established policy of not granting asylum to anyone and not determining or recognizing anyone as a refugee, said Mr Fung.
Visitors are not allowed to take up employment in Hong Kong, whether paid or unpaid, without the permission of the Director of Immigration. Offenders are liable to prosecution and upon conviction face a maximum fine of $50,000 and up to two years’ imprisonment, he summed up.