Victim ‘appalled’ by Hong Kong’s refusal to ban forced labor
HONG KONG, Aug 6 (AFP): A sexual abuse victim whose case led to a judicial rebuke of Hong Kong’s failure to ban forced labor has expressed dismay at the government’s decision to appeal of this historic decision.
In April, a judge ruled that the lack of an anti-trafficking law in Hong Kong contributed to police bungling an investigation into the abuse of a Filipina domestic helper, identified by the court as “CB”.
The finding was in line with a US human trafficking report, which said last month that the Chinese financial hub “does not meet minimum standards for the elimination of human trafficking”.
But hopes that April’s ruling would lead to swift legislative reform were dashed as the city’s Justice Department confirmed it was appealing the case.
“I am absolutely appalled by the government (appeal),” CB said on Friday, adding that legal reform was needed to prevent “inhumane treatment”.
His lawyer Patricia Ho added that she expected the government to “fight to the end” to dodge the legislation.
Hong Kong officials have repeatedly said that human trafficking is “never a widespread problem” in the city, and that related crimes are already dealt with by an existing patchwork of laws.
But in April, the judge wrote that having a specific offense can help police focus their investigations – whereas officers in CB’s case were too quick to rule out the possibility of forced labour.
Police declined to comment on their new investigation into CB’s case, citing the ongoing appeal.
Hong Kong currently has around 340,000 migrant domestic workers, mostly women from the Philippines and Indonesia.
Amnesty International said Hong Kong had failed to effectively protect migrant workers from abuse and exploitation, calling for a “comprehensive prevention, prosecution and protection law”.