Victim 'appalled' by Hong Kong's refusal to outlaw forced labour


In April, a judge ruled that Hong Kong's lack of a dedicated anti-trafficking law contributed to the police botching an investigation into the abuse of a Filipino domestic helper. - AFP

HONG KONG, Aug 6 (AFP): A sex-abuse victim whose case led to a judicial rebuke of Hong Kong's failure to outlaw forced labour has said she is appalled by the government's decision to appeal the landmark ruling.

In April, a judge ruled that Hong Kong's lack of a dedicated anti-trafficking law contributed to the police botching an investigation into the abuse of a Filipino domestic helper, identified in court as "CB".

That conclusion was in line with a US report on human trafficking, which said last month that the Chinese finance hub "does not meet the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking".

But hopes that the April ruling would lead to swift legislative reform were dashed, as the city's Department of Justice confirmed it was appealing the case.

"I am absolutely appalled by the government (appeal)," CB said Friday, adding that legal reform was needed to prevent "inhumane treatment".

Her lawyer Patricia Ho added that she expected the government to "fight to the end" to dodge legislation.

Hong Kong officials have repeatedly said human trafficking was "never a prevalent problem" in the city, and related crimes were already tackled by an existing patchwork of laws.

But in April, the judge wrote that having a specific offence can help police properly focus their investigations - while officers in CB's case were too quick to dismiss the possibility of forced labour.

Police declined to comment on their renewed 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 that Hong Kong has failed to effectively protect migrant workers from abuse and exploitation, urging a "comprehensive law on prevention, prosecution and protection".

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