LCQ22: Hong Kong residents refused entry by other jurisdictions
Early last month, a student movement leader was refused entry to Thailand when he arrived there by flight. He was repatriated to Hong Kong after 12 hours' detention. It was reported that the Prime Minister of Thailand subsequently indicated that such a move had been made at the request of the Chinese Government. In addition, in the past, some Hong Kong residents who supported social movements were refused entry to places such as India, Malaysia and Macau. Such incidents have caused some members of the public to worry that the freedom to travel and to leave the territory enjoyed by Hong Kong residents under Article 31 of the Basic Law is in jeopardy. In this connection, will the Government inform this Council:
(1) whether it knows the number of Hong Kong residents holding valid travel documents who were refused entry to and repatriated by other jurisdictions in the past five years, with a tabulated breakdown by jurisdiction and reason of entry refusal for such individuals;
(2) whether, in respect of the detention of Hong Kong residents upon their entry to other jurisdictions, the Government will negotiate with the governments of such jurisdictions; if it will, how and through what channels it will conduct the negotiations; whether any mechanism is currently in place to ensure that the Government will commence negotiations and inform the public of the situations within the shortest possible time;
(3) whether any mechanism is currently in place to safeguard the basic human rights of Hong Kong residents during their detention after entry to other jurisdictions, including their rights to contact lawyers and the Hong Kong Immigration Department (ImmD); of the channels available to the Government for holding the governments of other jurisdictions responsible for violating the basic human rights of Hong Kong residents;
(4) as there are comments that the Thai Government has so far failed to clearly explain the reasons why the aforesaid student movement leader was detained overnight and not allowed to contact lawyers and ImmD, whether the Government will (i) seriously demand the Thai Government to give a clear explanation in this respect, and (ii) demand the Thai Government to offer an apology when no reasonable explanation is given; and
(5) as some press reports have alleged that the Chinese Government has requested the governments of Macau, Malaysia and Thailand to prohibit the entry of some Hong Kong residents who are on a blacklist, whether the Government knows the content of the blacklist; whether the Government will request the Chinese authorities to withdraw the blacklist so as to safeguard the freedom to travel and to leave the territory enjoyed by Hong Kong residents under the Basic Law?
My reply to the Hon Nathan Law's question is as follows:
(1) The Government of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSARG) does not maintain the relevant figures mentioned in the question.
(2) to (4) The HKSARG attaches importance to the legal rights of Hong Kong residents outside Hong Kong, and will provide practical assistance as necessary. According to international practice, immigration authorities around the world will examine and process the entry of foreigners in accordance with their local laws and prevailing circumstances. Separately, according to international practice, immigration authorities will not usually comment on the reason and decision of individual case in detail. We must respect the right of other jurisdictions in exercising immigration control and making decisions in accordance with their laws. We will not, and should not, interfere.
Nonetheless, upon receipt of requests for assistance from Hong Kong residents who are detained overseas, the Assistance to Hong Kong Residents Unit (AHU) of the Immigration Department (ImmD) will, having regard to the nature and circumstances of individual cases as well as the requests of the assistance seekers, liaise with the Office of the Commissioner of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the People's Republic of China in the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (OCMFA), the Chinese diplomatic and consular missions (CDCMs) overseas and the relevant government departments to provide practicable assistance. The HKSARG and CDCMs will respect and abide by the local laws when following up with the requests for assistance.
With regard to the case mentioned in the question that a Hong Kong resident (the subject) was refused entry into Thailand, upon receipt of the request for assistance from a friend (the assistance seeker) of the subject on October 5, AHU immediately approached OCMFA, the Embassy of the People's Republic of China in Thailand (the Embassy) and the Royal Thai Consulate-General in Hong Kong to understand the situation. Officers of the Embassy immediately contacted the Thai authorities and, after being informed that the subject was refused entry into Thailand, requested them to ensure that the subject's legal rights be protected. AHU had maintained close contact with OCMFA and the Embassy during that period of time and kept in view of the development of the incident with a view to rendering practicable assistance to the subject. AHU had also maintained communication with the assistance seeker. Subsequently, the subject returned to Hong Kong in the afternoon of the same day.
The spokesman of the Thai government had already made a detailed response to the incident on the same day. If the subject objects to the decision of the Thai authorities, he may lodge an appeal in accordance with the local laws. If he so requests, the HKSARG will, upon receipt of his views on the incident, reflect them to the relevant authorities.
(5) As mentioned above, the spokesman of the Thai government had made a detailed response to the incident on the day of the incident. Separately, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs had also expressed on the same day that it respected the decision of the Thai government made in accordance with local immigration regulations and laws. The HKSARG is not aware of any so-called "blacklist" mentioned in the speculative media reports.
The Basic Law protects the fundamental rights and freedoms of Hong Kong residents, including the freedom to enter or leave Hong Kong. The immigration authorities of other places have the power to allow the entry or otherwise of Hong Kong residents in accordance with their laws, in the light of the circumstances pertaining to each individual case. All other jurisdictions have the rights to exercise their immigration control. It does not contradict Hong Kong residents' freedom to enter or leave Hong Kong under the Basic Law.
Ends/Wednesday, November 9, 2016
Issued at HKT 18:18
Issued at HKT 18:18