Top court rejects residency appeal


audio The Secretary for Justice Rimsky Yuen
AMCB members outside the CFA building. Photo: RTHK
New People's Party chairwoman Regina Ip. Photo: Timmy Sung
The Court of Final Appeal has dimissed an appeal by two Filipino helpers who were seeking permanent residency in Hong Kong.

It has also declined the government's request for it to refer the right of abode issue to the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress for clarification, saying the necessary conditions had not been met. The two Filipinos had lived in Hong Kong for more than seven years and argued that they qualified to stay in the territory permanently.

But the judges ruled that the nature of residence for foreign domestic helpers was highly restrictive, since they are obliged to return to their country of origin at the end of their contracts, and are told from the outset that admission to Hong Kong is not for the purpose of settlement.

Human right's lawyer, Mark Daly, who represented the domestic helpers said he was disappointed with the ruling but glad that the court had decided not to refer the issue to the NPC standing committee.

Both the Civic Party and the Democratic Party welcomed the top court's ruling while the chairwoman of the New People's Party, Regina Ip, said she's disappointed that the court had decline to refer the case.

She said the government can now only rely on administrative measures to stop mainlanders giving birth here.

The government has refused to rule out taking its own initiative to seek Beijing's interpretation of the Basic Law regarding the right of abode of children born in Hong Kong of mainland parents.

The Secretary for Justice, Rimsky Yuen, said however the government would try its best to use local laws to deal with such children.

The Security Secretary Lai Tung-kwok said the government would start processing more than 1,000 permanent residency applications from foreign domestic helpers.

Earlier, members of the Asian Migrants Coordinating Body who showed up outside the CFA for the judgement expressed disappointment the court had dismissed the appeal of the two domestic helpers.

A spokesman for the AMCB Eman Villaneuva said the outcome was unfair and discriminatory to the more than 300,000 foreign domestic helpers in the territory.

"With the court's ruling today, it gave its judicial seal to unfair treatment and to the social exclusion of foreign domestic workers in Hong Kong," he said.

But, the Chairman of the Hong Kong Employers of Overseas Domestic Helpers Association Joseph Law welcomed the ruling.

He said the judgement has clarified the false hope of some foreign domestic workers.

Mr Law said the hard work of the domestic helpers should be rewarded by the condition of service, the level of their wages and the respect from their employers, but not by including them the right of abode to become a permanent resident.

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