Refugees’ Rights

Refugees’ Rights

Refugees are

  • People who are forced to leave their countries because they face serious threat for racial, nationality, social groups, religious or political reasons
  • People whose protection are either refused by governments or not provided because of incapability
  • An identity rigorously defined by international treaties and laws, which must comply with screening principles of the UNHCR

Refugees are not

  • Purposefully leaving their countries for a more decent life. They are forced to look for survival elsewhere
  • economic migrants. Migrants and other groups on the move often make a conscious decision for economic and other reasons. Refugees don’t have this choice

Asylum seekers are

  • people who have left their country in search of international protection, but are yet to be recognized as a refugee – for example because they are undergoing a RSD procedure

Migrants are

  • people who move to another country for reasons other than a well-founded fear of prosecution – usually to find work or join family
  • People who still enjoy the protection of their country of origin. Such protection is usually not enjoyed by refugees and asylum seekers

Why are there “bogus refugees” ?

The meanings of asylum seekers and refugees are often used interchangeably.

There is no such thing as “bogus refugees”.
People who are not yet refugees are asylum seekers or claimants. They seek to become refugees, and are waiting for such identity to be verified by UNHCR or the country providing asylum.

Why did claimants choose Hong Kong?

The truth is, most of them did not have a choice. They might not even know what and where Hong Kong is.

They are criminals or a threat to our social order

FACT: Hong Kong’s crime rate has been dropping for 2 years in a row since 2013.

If they come here illegally, why should we let them in?

Currently, one can only be eligible for entering the refugee identification mechanism in Hong Kong when her visa is overstayed, meaning that the only way to seek protection is to violate the Immigration Ordinance.

The Universal Declaration of Human Rights recognize that refugees have a right to enter a country for the purposes of seeking asylum, regardless of how they arrive or whether they have valid travel or identity documents.

Why not impose stricter penalties on illegal immigrants?

‘Illegal immigrants’ is an outdated and dehumanising term.

As early as 1975, the United Nations General Assembly had requested the UN organs and specialized agencies concerned to utilize the term ‘non-documented’ or ‘irregular migrant workers’. Undocumented or irregular migrants are persons who do not fulfil the requirements established by the country of destination to enter, stay or exercise an economic activity. This term was a result of the recognition that a lot of migrants lost their status due to exploitation, misinformation or administrative delays, which is fundamentally different from committing an offence.

Certainly, there is a possibility that among those who enter Hong Kong’s border are economic migrants. However, worldwide studies and history informed us that those who breach the condition of staying or the immigration ordinance are often those who are vulnerable.

 Irregular migrants are not illegal, traffickers are 

What should we do to combat human trafficking?

Stepping up punitive measures against those without status does little to combat human trafficking. On the contrary, it protects and encourages traffickers and enablers (people who facilitate trafficking) by punishing the very victim from whom these people profiteer.

 The work of Amnesty International Hong Kong 


  • Documentary film festival
  • Talks and sharing with local refugee community
  • Talks and workshops in school, universities and other institutions
  • Articles in newspapers and online media


  • Work with different NGOs to lobby legislative council members and government departments
  • Open letter to CY Leung in April 2016
  • Submission to the Legislative Council and to the government
  • Monitor hate campaign targeting asylum seekers


  • Refer cases of asylum seekers and refugees to NGOs that provide front line assistance
  • Provide information of human rights abuses in different countries as references for claimants