Online Talk: Refugee Protection in Hong Kong Today
Speaker: Surabhi Chopra
Date: 2021.03.31 (Wed)
Time: 5:30 p.m. - 7:00 p.m.
Venue: Online (zoom session details will be given after registration).
This talk will focus on people seeking asylum / refugees in present-day Hong Kong. We will discuss the forces that drive people to seek asylum in Hong Kong and the circumstances in which they live here.
China has not extended the 1951 Refugee Convention to Hong Kong, which means that the government is not bound by this international treaty to recognize and protect the rights of refugees. However, Hong Kong is a party to the United Nations Convention against Torture and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. Thus, the Hong Kong government is obligated under these treaties to protect people in Hong Kong – regardless of their formal residence status – from torture, refoulement, persecution, ill-treatment or arbitrary deprivation of life. These obligations have prompted the establishment of an official system to evaluate whether individuals would face these risks if returned to their countries of origin.
If someone’s claim for protection from forcible return to their country is found to be valid, and they are recognised as a refugee (who the government labels as a ‘substantiated non-refoulement claimant’), the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees works to re-settle them in a third country. This process can take many years. In the meantime, families seeking asylum navigate many challenges accessing education, employment, availing social services, and making ends meet financially in Hong Kong.
In our talk, we will examine the governmental and United Nations mechanisms in relation to refugees in Hong Kong. We will also discuss the socio-economic realities of being an asylum applicant in Hong Kong. We will highlight civil society advocacy in Hong Kong, including advocacy by refugees themselves, to recognise and respect the rights of refugees. Finally, we will outline areas for future reform.
The talk will be held by the research team of the project Immigration Detention and Vulnerable Migrants in Hong Kong: Evaluating the System, Facilitating Reform (funded by the Hong Kong Research Grants Council). Surabhi Chopra is an Associate Professor at the Faculty of Law, CUHK specialising in human rights. Raquel Amador is a researcher, lawyer and civil society advocate specialising in migrants’ rights. Chloe Fung is a researcher with a particular interest in data analysis and visualisation to advance rights protection and transparency.