Action plan to tackle trafficking in persons and enhance protection of foreign domestic helpers endorsed
A high-level inter-bureau/departmental steering committee, chaired by the Chief Secretary for Administration, Mr Matthew Cheung Kin-chung, has endorsed a comprehensive action plan to tackle trafficking in persons (TIP) and enhance the protection of foreign domestic helpers (FDHs) working in Hong Kong through a multi-pronged approach.
The Action Plan to Tackle TIP and to Enhance Protection of FDHs in Hong Kong outlines a package of multi-faceted measures that are comprehensive, strategic and targeted, and which cover victim identification, protection and support, investigation, enforcement, prosecution and prevention as well as partnership with different stakeholders.
In addition to more than 20 ongoing measures, the Action Plan includes several major new initiatives:
(a) extend the victim screening mechanism to the Labour Department (LD);
(b) extend the Police's victim screening mechanism to all 24 police districts;
(c) appoint dedicated teams or officers in the relevant law enforcement agencies to handle cases relating to TIP and exploitation of FDHs;
(d) appoint dedicated teams or officers in the relevant LD divisions, and setting up a new dedicated FDH Division in the LD to ensure the effective implementation of measures to enhance protection of FDHs;
(e) strengthen support for the designated co-ordinator of human exploitation cases in the Department of Justice;
(f) set up a dedicated hotline with interpretation services to provide support services to FDHs; and
(g) engage with the governments of major FDH source countries and launch public education campaigns through the relevant Economic and Trade Offices.
To combat TIP and protect FDHs, the Government has set up the high-level Steering Committee to Tackle TIP and to Enhance Protection of FDHs in Hong Kong with the key aims of formulating an overall strategy and overseeing the implementation of the Action Plan. With the Secretary for Security, Mr John Lee, and the Secretary for Labour and Welfare, Dr Law Chi-kwong, as the vice chairmen, the membership also comprises the Commissioner of Police, the Director of Immigration, the Commissioner of Customs and Excise, the Director of Social Welfare, the Commissioner for Labour and the Director of Public Prosecutions of the Department of Justice.
Speaking about the Action Plan, Mr Cheung said, "It demonstrates the determination of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region Government and the concerted efforts of various bureaux and departments in combatting TIP and protecting FDHs," adding that the Government "looks forward to joining hands with all stakeholders to achieve positive results.
"TIP is a heinous crime which must not be tolerated. Crimes relating to TIP need to be tackled on all fronts. As the threat of trafficking posed by transnational organised crime syndicates continues to evolve, we have continued to identify necessary new measures in response over the years.
"Meanwhile, as at the end of 2017, about 370 000 FDHs were working in Hong Kong and their population is expected to continue to grow in future years. Whilst FDHs are fully protected under Hong Kong's labour laws and the government-prescribed Standard Employment Contract to prevent them from falling victim to exploitation, we also take the opportunity to develop new measures for enhancing the protection of FDHs. Noting that our community fully appreciates the contribution of FDHs, the Action Plan includes measures for enhancing their protection to prevent them from falling victim to exploitation.
"The setting up of the high-level and inter-bureau/departmental Steering Committee plus the promulgation of the Action Plan underline the Government's resolve in combatting TIP and enhancing protection for FDHs. It represents the concerted efforts of various government bureaux and departments in coming up with multi-faceted measures in tackling crime."