Filipino torture claimant jail for 18 weeks for Breach of Condition of Stay

Image title

Shatin Law Courts Bldg.

After years of trying to get approval from the authorities in Hong Kong lodging for non-refoulment as a torture claimant, but refused several times, a Filipino woman’s case came to an end last Tuesday, June 7 at Shatin Magistracy Courts. Acting Principal Magistrate David Cheung Chi-wai sentenced her to 18 weeks imprisonment for breach of condition of stay from 9 July 2008 to 14 March 2014.

A Filipino woman, Tordillos E.C., came to Hong Kong on 9 July 2008 as a visitor and was permitted to stay until 11 July 2008. She overstayed and surrendered herself to the Immigration Department (ImmD) on 24 March 2014, more than five years later.

She lodged her non-refoulement claim by written representations respectively dated 19 March and 16 May 2014. In support of her claim, she said that if refouled, she feared that she would be harmed or killed by people from the New People’s Army (“the NPA”).

Non-refoulement is the practice of not forcing refugees or asylum seekers to return to a country in which they are liable to be subjected to persecution.

On June 14, 2017, her claim was denied. The Director found that there was no substantial ground for believing that there would be any real and substantial risk of her being harmed or killed by the NPA people as she cannot establish her claim. The Director also stated that state protection was available to her, and internal relocation was an option open to her.

Tordillos E.C., made an appeal and was heard on April 20, 2018, but rejected. The Board’s Decision came to the conclusion that her claim was not strong; that she was not harmed between 1993 and 2007 at the time she was in the Philippines; and that internal relocation was an option open to her.

The applicant filed on 6 September 2018 for leave to apply for judicial review of the Board’s Decision. In her affirmation in support of her application, she said that her life would be at risk if she returned to the Philippines. She did not set out any ground in support of her application. Nor did she say that the Board was in error in coming to its decision.

On June 18, 2020, High Court refused to grant her leave to apply for judicial review of the Board’s Decision, and Accordingly, dismissed her application.

On 23 December 2020, this court handed down a judgment dismissing the applicant’s appeal on 18 June 2020 refusing leave to the applicant to apply for judicial review. The applicant had sought to review the decision of the Torture Claims Appeal Board/Non-Refoulement Claims Petition Office (“the Board”) dismissing her appeal against the decision of the Director of Immigration in rejecting her non‑refoulement claim.

Again, Tordillos E.C. lodged a written submission in support of her leave application on 11 January 2021 and was dismissed again in March 2021

Acting Magistrate Cheung Chi-wai, said that for 5 years and 8 months of overstaying, she should be given 33 weeks, but as she surrendered herself at the ImmD on March 14, 2018, it was reduced to 22 weeks. Additional four weeks were deducted as she went to ImmD recently for her case to be heard today, thus, 18 weeks was the final judgment for her jail period.