18/2/2014 - GA v Director of Immigration - Right to Work

The Court of Final Appeal judgment in the relation to the right to work case (GA v Director of Immigration) was handed down today.  

This case concerns a very small group of PROVEN refugees and torture claimants seeking the right to work while they are in Hong Kong.  The Hong Kong Government and/or the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights have already confirmed that their cases are genuine.  Likely, and not out of choice, they will have to remain here indefinitely.  Out of the 4 applicants in this case, 3 were suffering from major depression or schizophrenia because of their past and the hopelessness they have been facing in Hong Kong.  This is not a case about ‘immigrants’ taking ‘our jobs’.   It is a case about basic human dignity. 

Regrettably the court in the judgment sweeps away fundamental rights and legal logic in the name of the vague concept of immigration control and Hong Kong’s context.  It is reminiscent of the domestic helper case where the Court again fails to take the opportunity to safeguard human dignity and protect the most vulnerable amongst us.  Instead, it chooses a regressive path sending a message inconsistent with respect for rights in a modern society. 

While the judgment has swept away rights it recognizes that our clients would have already suffered inhuman and degrading treatment if they were not permitted to work – and because of this they were partially successful in these appeals. 

But in this day and age to have to live in desperation for upwards of 10 years, show you have suffered from mental illnesses, take a case to the Court of Final Appeal to show you are serious BEFORE the Director of Immigration will grant you temporary permission to work is absurd.