'Citizen reporter' deported

Local | Charlotte Luo 2 Dec 2019

An Indonesian domestic helper who reported on protests in Hong Kong is facing deportation after failing to renew her visa.

Yuli Riswati was interviewed by local media last week on her reporting for her Facebook page and online media Migran Pos.

Riswati was detained for 28 days at Castle Peak Bay Immigration Centre after failing to renew her work visa, and pressured to cancel her visa-renewal application during her detention, her support group said yesterday.

The group said that Riswati had a two-year contract starting from January 12, but forgot to extend her visa before it expired on July 27, three days after her passport was renewed.

Her visa was originally valid for two years, consistent with her contract; however, a visa's expiration date cannot extend further than the expiration date of a holder's passport.

Riswati was arrested on a charge of overstaying in September 23, but it was dropped on November 4.

Her employer has repeatedly requested a visa extension, the support group added.

The Hong Kong Federation of Domestic Workers Unions said the immigration department would "always allow" domestic workers to renew their visas if their employers confirmed their continued service and explained the failure to renew the visa.

Riswati was initially allowed to submit a visa-extension application during her detention, but the department later handed down a removal order, against which she appealed.

The department also rejected a request by Riswati's lawyers for "a recognizance" while she waited for her visa.

An immigration officer told Riswati on Friday that she had to withdraw the visa application and she could return to Indonesia, Riswati said.

"In the end, I wrote I was withdrawing my visa application because I have been detained for too long and don't know when I can go back [home]," she said.

"The officer said I cannot write that because the lawyer will give them trouble. In the end, against my will, I had to write I am withdrawing the application, and I will go back to Indonesia to apply from there."

Fish Ip Pui-yu, regional coordinator for International Domestic Workers Federation, said: "It is clearly political suppression against Riswati for her writings, for her speaking up for the Hong Kong protesters."

The immigration department said it has the right to arrest, detain, prosecute and deport any person who violates the conditions of their stay in Hong Kong.

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