Girl, 3, among 22 seized on sampan

Local | Amy Nip and Kinling Lo 10 Mar 2016

A three-year-old girl was among 22 presumed illegal immigrants intercepted by marine police traveling from the mainland to Hong Kong in a sampan with no safety jackets.

Illegal immigrants are usually male but, in the first case in years, marine police found a toddler who was traveling with her parents.

At 5.30am, marine police detected the seven- meter long sampan 2.5 nautical miles to the west of the airport runway. There were 20 men and two women on the boat, including 21 from Bangladesh, India and Pakistan and the alleged 20-year-old snakehead from Guangdong.

Fourteen were from Pakistan, including a family of three a 34-year-old father, 21-year-old mother and three-year-old daughter.

Initial investigation showed the group had boarded the boat at Nei Lingding Island in Guangdong. The boat trip to Hong Kong usually takes 20 to 25 minutes. It is believed they had planned to file applications as torture claimants.

Chan Sze-man, operations support sub unit commander of marine west division, said the sampan intended to land at Tai O.

Ting Chi-kwok, acting division commander of marine west, said the operation was difficult in the fog. All were detained at Lantau North police station.

The suspected snakehead, who is said to have pocketed 1,000 yuan (HK$1,190) for the trip was arrested for aiding and abetting illegal immigration, while the others were arrested for being illegal immigrants.

Victoria Wisniewski Otero, Advocacy and Campaigns manager for Justice Centre Hong Kong, said the group, which helps refugees, had previously seen children entering the territory either with families or as unaccompanied minors.

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