The Right of Abode and the Social Exclusion of Foreign Domestic Workers in Hong Kong By Dolores Balladares Chairperson, United Filipinos in Hong Kong ( UNIFIL-MIGRANTE-HK)
A. The Issue on the Right of Abode in Hong Kong • What is “Right of Abode” (RoA)? • Under the law, who can be eligible for the right of Abode? • Why FDWs are not “eligible” for the Right of Abode?
1. What is “Right of Abode”? • Hong Kong permanent residents possess the "right of abode”, meaning they are allowed to live in Hong Kong without subject to a condition of stay, and the right to not be deported or removed. • Essentially, this is a quasi-citizenship for Hong Kong, but both Chinese and non-Chinese citizens can hold this status.
Under the law, who can be eligible for the right of abode? • Article 24 (4) of the Basic Law - “A person not of Chinese nationality who has entered Hong Kong with a valid travel document, has ordinarily resided in Hong Kong for a continuous period of not less than 7 years and has taken Hong Kong as his place of permanent residence before or after the establishment of the HKSAR.”
3. Why FDWs are not “eligible” for the Right of Abode? Section 2(4)(vi) of the Immigration Ordinance - ‘For the purposes of this Ordinance, a person shall not be treated as ordinarily resident in Hong Kong while employed as a domestic helper who is from outside Hong Kong.’ Lord David Pannick: …residency of maids, like prisoners, is "out of the ordinary."
B. FDWs segregation on the RoA as part of the Social Exclusion in HK society. • What is the essence of FDWs exclusion on the RoA? • What are the other forms of social exclusion to the FDWs in Hong Kong. • What is the truth behind the statements of the pro-right of abode? • Why did the HK government introduce a “cap” on the years of work of FDWs?
1. What is the essence of FDWs exclusion on the RoA? Social Exclusion • processes in which individuals and entire communities of people are systematically blocked from rights, opportunities and resources (e.g. housing, employment, healthcare, civic engagement, democratic participation and due process) that are normally available to members of society and which are key to social integration.
2. What are the other forms of social exclusion to the FDWs in HK. • Two-week rule policy • Minimum wage exclusion • Mandatory live-in arrangement • “W” in the HKID • FDH counters at airport immigration • Ban on driving duties • Proposal to remove maternity protection for FDWs • Immigration ban on Nepalese workers
3. What are the truth behind the statements of the pro right of abode? Scare Tactics • 500,000 FDWs and families will apply for RoA and live in HK. • Steal the jobs from local workers. • Take advantage of the funds and social services of HK. Regina Ip Paul Tse
D. What are our responses? • We support the ROA petitioners for we believe that equal application of the law is fundamental human right. • We stand against discrimination and other forms of social exclusion (Live-in arrangement, 2-week rule, minimum wage, working hours, etc.).
E. What FDWs can do on the RoA issue and the social exclusion. • Strengthen solidarity among local workers in HK and workers from other nationalities. • Conduct massive education and information dissemination on the issue. • Organize and join mass actions.
F. Sending governments of FDWs are accountable for their plights in Hong Kong . • The political, social and economic crisis and instability are the root causes of force migration. • Poverty • Unemployment • Lack of opportunities * This must be addressed to lessen if not stop the discrimination and social exclusion of migrant workers in any part of the world.