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LCQ6: Immigration control

     Following is a reply by the Secretary for Security, Mr Lai Tung-kwok, to a question by the Dr Hon Kenneth Chan in the Legislative Council today (June 11):


     Earlier on, a democracy activist who arrived in Hong Kong from Taiwan was refused entry by the Immigration Department (ImmD).  In the past, a number of democracy and human rights activists were also refused entry.  In this connection, will the Government inform this Council:

(1) whether it currently maintains a list of democracy or human rights activists who are to be refused entry; if so, of the criteria adopted by the Government for drawing up the list, and whether it has communicated with the Central People's Government (CPG) or its offices in Hong Kong in the course of drawing up the list; if it does not maintain such a list, of the criteria based on which ImmD refused entry of the aforesaid democracy activist;

(2) whether ImmD refused entry of any visitors in the past three years on the basis of their political backgrounds or possible political influences that their entry might cause; if so, of the number of such visitors who were refused entry and the details; if not, the reasons for refusing entry of a number of democracy and human rights activists in the past; and

(3) whether CPG or its offices in Hong Kong demanded in the past the SAR Government to include certain persons in the list of persons to be refused entry; if so, of the number of such persons and the specific reasons for including them in the list?



     The Administration's consolidated reply to the Hon Chan's questions is as follows:

     The Government of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR) accords measures to facilitate the entry of genuine visitors from around the world. In 2013, the number of visitors from around the world reached 54.3 million and they came to Hong Kong for purposes including visiting relatives, traveling and sightseeing, engaging in business activities, and cultural and academic exchanges, etc.  The Immigration Department (ImmD) on the one hand strives to facilitate the entry of genuine visitors, and on the other shoulders the responsibility to maintain effective immigration control in accordance with law to safeguard public interest of Hong Kong. Article 154(2) of the Basic Law stipulates that the Government of the HKSAR may apply immigration controls on entry into, stay in and departure from the Region by persons from foreign states and regions.

     Pursuant to section 4(1)(a) of the Immigration Ordinance (Cap. 115),  officers of the ImmD may examine any visitor on his arrival in Hong Kong.  In most cases, the examinations are conducted at immigration counters.  Depending on individual circumstances, ImmD officers may conduct secondary examinations in interview rooms.  During the examination, the ImmD officer will consider whether the visitor meets normal immigration requirements, such as whether he possesses a valid travel document; whether he possesses a valid visa or endorsement that corresponds to his purpose of entry; whether he has the arrangements and facilities to return to his place of domicile; whether he has sufficient funds for the proposed stay; whether he has any known adverse records, etc.  Like other immigration authorities elsewhere, in addition to considering whether the visitor satisfies normal immigration requirements, the ImmD also considers whether to allow entry in light of relevant information and the individual circumstances of each case in accordance with law and prevailing policies. If a visitor does not satisfy immigration requirements, section 11(1) of the Immigration Ordinance authorises officers of the ImmD to refuse his entry into Hong Kong after examination of a visitor.

     The HKSAR Government will not comment on individual cases or make public information concerning individual cases.  The ImmD does not have a so-called "blacklist" of persons not allowed to enter Hong Kong. I reiterate that officers of the ImmD take into account the individual circumstances of each visitor, including information gathered from examination, and act in accordance with law and prevailing policies in deciding whether to allow or refuse entry.  The background of a visitor is not necessarily a reason for refusal of entry. If an individual visitor has been allowed or refused entry in the past, it does not necessarily mean that he will automatically be allowed or refused entry again.

     In the past three years, i.e. 2011, 2012 and 2013, the number of visitor arrivals refused entry into Hong Kong was 23 876, 29 792 and 37 105 respectively, accounting for 0.06% to 0.07% of the total number of visitors to Hong Kong in the relevant years.  The reasons for refusal include having a doubtful purpose of visit (for example, parallel traders and Mainland pregnant women, etc.), being improperly documented or holding a forged travel document.  Around 80% of those refused entry were from the Mainland, the rest were primarily from Asia-Pacific and Africa.

     The HKSAR Government all along abides by the rule of law, and in implementing immigration control policies, also abides by the principles of "One Country, Two Systems" and a high degree of autonomy.  Like other immigration authorities elsewhere, the ImmD gathers relevant information from other immigration authorities and law enforcement agencies to assist in the processing of entry applications and considering whether to allow entry in light of the individual circumstances of each case.  This is a regular exchange between the ImmD and other authorities, and there is no question of ImmD being intervened or affected by political considerations.

Ends/Wednesday, June 11, 2014
Issued at HKT 18:36


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