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 May 2016 Newsletter

Dear friends,

In the lead up to World Refugee Day (June 20) and the International Day of Survivors of Torture (June 26), we commemorate the resilience, courage and accomplishments of the refugee community we work with.  They have survived human rights abuses including torture and persecution, survive on limited humanitarian assistance and can be isolated and marginalised in the Hong Kong society. However, our team is constantly inspired by their perseverance as their protection claims are slowly processed in the Unified Screening Mechanism; their bravery in preparing their testimonies with our lawyers and their hope that they will be able to rebuild their lives again.
 
One of the greatest highlights this month is the recent achievement of Social Justice Alliance, a refugee-led advocacy group who, for the very first time, have had an opinion-piece published in the Chinese language press. In the article the group explain how they personally have been affected by the negative rhetoric published in the media over the past few months, and urge the Hong Kong public not to label them, but simply understand that they are people seeking protection.
 
We will be celebrating this achievement and commemorating World Refugee Day on June 20 with a music event, ‘’Rock for Justice’’,  at Orange Peel - so save the date and we hope to see you there!

Warmly,

Piya Muqit
Executive Director

 

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Highlights in May

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MAY HIGHLIGHTS

First refugee-written opinion-piece in Chinese

Extending our Legal Services: Representation at the Appeal Stage

Refugees from Social Justice Alliance (a group led by refugees who have graduated from our Voices for Protection advocacy empowerment programme) worked with our Advocacy and Campaigns team to write an opinion piece which was published in Chinese in Ming Pao on May 10 - a big first in Hong Kong! The group said, "we are not “illegal” or “fake”; we do not accept these labels. We should be treated equally as human beings. Seeking asylum is a basic human right all over the world – including in Hong Kong. It is not fair to portray us in a negative way when we are not even given the chance here in Hong Kong to prove ourselves". Thank you to Betty, from our Ambassadors Network, for the translation. You can read the English version in Hong Kong Free Press here.

In Hong Kong, only around 0.6% of protection claims are accepted by the Immigration Department, as compared to, e.g. the average in the UK which is 39%. This is one of the lowest acceptance rates in the developed world and highlights a problem in the quality of decision-making. Each protection claimant has the opportunity to challenge these decisions via an appeal process before the Torture Claims Appeal Board, where decisions may be overturned. This month we have launched an extension of our legal services to ensure refugees are represented at this crucial appeal stage, thanks to the generous support and assistance of our pro bono partner, Davis Polk & Wardwell. We hope that our appeal work will have a strategic impact on the quality of decision-making and that refugees can receive the protections and rights they are entitled to.
Lawyers from our pro bono law firms are welcome to get involved: contact isaac@justicecentre.org.hk for more details.

Justice Conference Asia 2016

‘Coming Clean’: advocating at LegCo

On May 14, our Advocacy and Campaigns Manager, Victoria Wisniewski Otero led a workshop at The Justice Conference Asia based on findings from our report “Coming Clean” which shows that 1 in 6 of migrant domestic workers in Hong Kong are in forced labour or who have been trafficked. Watch this video to learn more about our findings and their implications for Hong Kong.  
On May 24, the Legislative Council’s Panel on Manpower held a special meeting on the Draft Code of Practice for Employment Agencies issued by the Labour Department. On the back of our groundbreaking report, ‘Coming Clean‘, Justice Centre made a written submission as well as an oral statement to the panel, detailing our concerns and recommendations.

Goldman Sachs Community Day with refugees 

Human rights legal training for pro bono lawyers

Goldman Sachs generously sponsored a community day this month for refugees from our hiking and running programme as part of our right to rehabilitation work in collaboration with Free to Run. 32 Goldman Sachs staff and refugees enjoyed a hike, fitness session and picnic, followed by a mentoring session at our centre.
 

40 pro bono lawyers and volunteers attended our Human Rights Training on May 28, which covers human rights and refugee law and equips pro bono lawyers and volunteers to assist in our legal work. Their support makes a life-changing difference for the refugees we work with. Thank you to King & Wood Mallesons for generously hosting the session.

Hong Kong Free Press reports on our response to Hong Kong’s shocking ranking in Walk Free's Global Slavery Index. Hong Kong is ranked 157th out of 161 countries in terms of the government's response to modern slavery, just above North Korea, Iran and Eritrea. These statistics echo findings from our report “Coming Clean” on the prevalence of forced labour amongst migrant domestic workers. We continue to collaborate with other civil society groups and the government to combat human trafficking and forced labour from the prevention, protection and prosecution perspectives.

Commemorate World Refugee Day with us with drinks and a great line-up of local bands including Sakofa Drummers, ShumKing Mansion, Dowa Towa and Miss Cathy & the Sideburns, plus a lucky draw!
 
Time and Date:  6:00pm - 11:30pm on Monday June 20
Venue: ORANGE PEEL, 2/F, 38-44 D'Aguilar Street, Lan Kwai Fong, Central.​​
Advance tickets: HK$300 (includes one glass of wine) available here (coming soon).
On-the-door tickets:  HK$350 (includes one glass of wine).

Donate on World Refugee Day

Vote for refugee runners

In the lead-up to World Refugee Day, what better way to show your support for refugees than by making a donation to our work? There are over 11,000 people seeking protection in Hong Kong, but we are currently able to provide intensive legal and psychosocial support to just 150 of the most vulnerable refugees.
Please donate today to help us reach more refugees who urgently need assistance. Your support can make a life-changing difference.

Refugees participating in our running and rehabilitation programme with Free To Run have recently been nominated for the Gone Running Hong Kong Trail Running Awards along with Virginie Goethals, co-director of Free To Run. These awards recognise their contributions to the community and their outstanding achievements in local races.Please show your support and vote for them here!
Category 9: Best team run Award- Free to Run Country of Origin.
Category 13: Community Award- Virginie Goethals.

 

VACANCIES

We currently have vacancies for a volunteer Development Associate in our Fundraising & Development team, and a self-funded Fellowship position.  Please spread the word in your networks!

Do you speak Somali, Pashto, Tigrinya, Amharic, Tamil, Sinhala, Wolof or Bangla? Or know someone who does? Join our team of interpreters who play an essential part in enabling refugees access our services. Visit our website for more information.  

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Justice Centre Hong Kong
18/F, 202 Centre
202-204 Des Voeux Road West
Sai Ying Pun
Hong Kong

Telephone: (+852) 3109 7359
Email: info@justicecentre.org.hk