Hong Kong’s top court has affirmed the immigration authority’s decision to turn away two Filipino domestic workers, despite their young children having residency status in the city.
The Court of Final Appeal was ruling on the cases of Milagros Tecson Comilang and Desiree Rante Luis, which were heard together. While working in Hong Kong as domestic workers, the two women gave birth to children who eventually became residents or permanent residents of the city.
On Thursday, five judges at the Court of Final Appeal sided with the government in a unanimous decision, dismissing a line of argument based on human rights protections afforded by the Bill of Rights and the Basic Law.
The judges pointed to a key exemption in the Bill of Rights Ordinance: the law – which sets out the rights and freedoms enjoyed by Hongkongers – does not apply to the operation of immigration law when it comes to “persons not having the right to enter and remain in Hong Kong.”
Since neither Comilang nor Luis had the right of abode, the Director of Immigration had no legal duty to take into account the Bill of Rights Ordinance when turning them away, according to the judges.
The two women were “very disappointed” over the result, their lawyer said, adding that the decision “deviated from international human rights norms.”
“The court seems to acknowledge that the HKSAR did and still does subordinate all human rights to the need for strict immigration control, to the point of exclusion of any consideration,” Daly & Associates said in a statement.