HONG KONG—A Hong Kong decide dominated Friday the police had “prematurely curtailed” their investigation of a Philippine home employee being exploited by her employer, a biting evaluation of the town’s failure to guard victims of human trafficking.
The landmark ruling marks a uncommon victory for migrant employee activists, who’ve lengthy argued that the town’s 340,000 home employees—largely ladies from the Philippines and Indonesia—are acutely susceptible to varied types of abuse and exploitation.
Final yr, Brian Apthorp, a British everlasting resident, was convicted of committing indecent assault towards his home helper—referred to in authorized paperwork as “CB.”
After her win in court docket, she mounted one other authorized problem in July 2021—this time towards the federal government for failing to correctly examine her extra critical accusations of trafficking and compelled labor.
Excessive Court docket Decide Russell Coleman on Friday dominated in CB’s favor, saying that authorities had “prematurely curtailed” their investigation into her case.
He additionally referred to as it “manifestly irrational and unsound” for the police to dismiss the potential for compelled labor.
“The police’s investigation didn’t set [out] to find a case of compelled labor, however as a substitute focused a case of indecent assault as a result of that was the one cost which might have been introduced,” Coleman mentioned.
At present, Hong Kong makes use of a patchwork of prison offenses to focus on trafficking and compelled labor, with out tackling it beneath a single piece of laws—which Coleman mentioned doesn’t adequately defend victims of compelled labor and referred to as for extra particular legal guidelines.
Charging Apthorp with indecent assault—as a substitute of the extra critical costs of trafficking and compelled labor—meant the jail sentences are capped at shorter lengths.
CB’s case additionally concerned comparatively senior regulation enforcement officers, which highlighted a “systemic downside,” the decide mentioned, calling abuse towards home employees a “disturbing however infamous truth” in Hong Kong.
He ordered for an investigation into her case to be reopened.
A Division of Justice spokesperson mentioned they may research the judgement and “contemplate the way in which ahead.”
CB mentioned she was “very completely happy” that the court docket acknowledged the necessity to revise the legal guidelines, and referred to as on the federal government to take speedy steps to take action.
“I hope the police shall be extra conscious of the on a regular basis exploitation of helper s… In my case, there have been too many lapses and they didn’t see the broader image,” CB mentioned in an announcement through her legal professionals.
Since 2020, the US Division of State have mentioned Hong Kong was not doing sufficient to sort out human trafficking, protecting it on its “Tier 2 Watchlist” rating alongside nations, resembling Belarus, Liberia and Thailand.
The Hong Kong authorities has referred to as the report “biased and unreasonable.”
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