Ip proposal for asylum camp runs into a wall

Top News | Yupina Ng 22 Mar 2016

Former secretary for security and current lawmaker Regina Ip Lau Suk-yee has proposed setting up a detention camp in Shenzhen to dissuade asylum seekers from coming to Hong Kong.

But critics immediately gave it the thumbs-down, saying it would violate the "one country, two systems" policy as claimants come under the unified screening mechanism according to the SAR law.

"Since Hong Kong lacks space for the detention camp, the SAR government may need to consider seeking help from the central government to set it up outside the territory, such as in Shenzhen," said Ip, the New People's Party chairwoman and an Executive Council member.

She said Shenzhen has many islands and the SAR government could rent one to set up the camp.

Hong Kong Human Rights Monitor director Law Yuk-kai said Ip's suggestion ridicules the SAR legal system.

"Can we lower the crime rate in Hong Kong by setting up a detention camp for criminals in Shenzhen?" he asked. "If mainland authorities cannot enforce their law in the SAR, how can we let them handle asylum seekers looking for help in Hong Kong?"

Law said the mainland's human rights record is dissatisfactory and placing asylum seekers in a camp there "may not protect them from torture."

Under the Immigration Ordinance, anyone who arranges the passage of illegal immigrants to Hong Kong from the mainland, Macau or Vietnam faces a maximum of 14 years in prison and a fine of HK$5 million.

The SAR government is considering punishing those who arrange the passage of illegal immigrants from other places as well. Stiffer penalties are also being planned.

The Legislative Council will discuss the proposals on April 12.

Meanwhile, an alleged human trafficking mastermind, Muhammad Ashiq, 36, who was charged with one count of possession of dangerous drugs, was yesterday released on bail by Tsuen Wan Magistrates' Court.

He was arrested in the SAR on Friday for alleged human trafficking during a joint operation by the Hong Kong and Guangdong police. Three grams of ketamine were found in his flat, police said.

The prosecution objected to the bail application, saying Ashiq was linked to a syndicate.

But acting principal magistrate Cheang Kei-hong said the charge should be handled separately from the human trafficking case.

Ashiq was released on HK$60,000 bail. The case was adjourned to May 4.

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