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Archive for June, 2008

Hong Kong News, the largest circulation Filipino newspaper in the city, has maintained its coverage of Vicky’s case in its main July edition. Two articles feature on the second page, one reporting an interview with Philippine Vice-Consul Val Roque and the other with Justice for Vicky spokesman James Rice.

The interview with the Vice-Consul covers the payment of outstanding salary and long-service entitlements by Vicky’s former employers, with no news other than what has been given here.

In the second article, James Rice expresses our concern that the police investigation is flawed, and our determination to make a difference in the case by helping witnesses to come forward. James and his wife Cris have worked tirelessly to that end.

As mentioned yesterday, we are currently in a quiet period waiting for the police to issue their final report.

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As we await the final police report on Vicky’s disappearance and death it pays to remember that although this blog has carried a good deal of news about the case, not all information is available to us.

In every locality around the world, police investigations are conducted in secrecy. We have repeatedly noted our concern about the police conduct here on Lantau, but understand the necessity of discretion in the investigation overall.

Although we have no news with a direct bearing on the case to report, we are working with Vicky’s sister Irene on minor matters. The Justice for Vicky concern group is still doing everything possible to ensure exactly what its name suggests.

But at the moment, we’re just having to do that patiently.

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Help for Domestic Helpers, an NG0 based at St John’s Cathedral in Central, has offered to conduct a seminar on legal rights for domestic helpers here in Discovery Bay next month.

Members of the Justice for Vicky concern group will attend a similar seminar in Central this weekend and offer advice on how the format might be tailored to suit local concerns. Help for Domestic Helpers has a good deal of experience in helping migrant workers deal with legal issues, so the event should be well worth attending.

When a date, time and place is set for the Discovery Bay seminar we will announce the details here.

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The Justice for Vicky concern group has written another letter to the Tung Chung police, copied to the Coroner’s Office. The letter, delivered by fax yesterday, 23 June, asked for or requested the consideration of information pertinent to the early stages of the police investigation into Vicky’s disappearance and death.

An important point to note is that Vicky’s sister Irene was one of the signatories to the letter. The letter asked:

  • Whether a water sample was taken to determine if Vicky died where she was found
  • As the autopsy report gives no indication, whether the police can estimate the length of time Vicky’s body was in the water before discovery
  • As Irene noticed lacerations on Vicky’s left foot that weren’t mentioned in the autopsy report, whether the police or Coroner have any photographic evidence to confirm or refute this
  • Whether members of Vicky’s family can obtain copies of any photographs of Vicky’s body taken where it was found
  • Whether Vicky’s body was found face up or down (this could indicate an error in the finding of death by drowning)
  • Whether it is possible or likely that a van could have been parked overnight in the parking lot adjacent to the ferry pier in Tung Chung
  • Whether the police were aware that the posters calling for information about Vicky’s death around the ferry pier have all been torn down
  • Why the police took into consideration the statement of an un-named decoration worker in the flat beside Vicky’s employers’ that there had been no audible disturbances in the 2 days leading up to Vicky’s disappearance but seemingly ignored a neighbour’s statement that he heard “hysterical screaming” coming from the vicinity 3 days before the woman disappeared

This last point is very significant because it highlights our concern that the police have not sufficiently considered Vicky’s environment before she disappeared.

Any reply from the police or the Coroner’s Office will be reported here.

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Reply from Ombudsman

Members of the Justice for Vicky concern group who signed the letter to the police District Commander now featured on this blog have received a reply, of sorts. The original letter was copied to the Coroner’s Office and the government Ombudsman. The Office of the Ombudsman has acknowledged receipt of the letter and pointed out that it has no authority to investigate complaints against the police, except those involving access to information.

The Ombudsman also mentioned that we should direct our concerns to the Complaints Against Police Office. We were, of course, aware of this, and will take that path should the final police report confirm our current fears about the direction of the investigation into Vicky’s disappearance and death.

However, the Complaints Against Police Office is an arm of the police force, which hardly inspires confidence in any of its findings given that our original complaint was against police failure to act. Only after a report from the Office would we be able to appeal to the Independent Police Complaints Council, as the Ombudsman pointed out.

It seems that justice can be a much delayed process in Hong Kong.

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Vicky’s former employers paid her outstanding salary and long-service entitlements through their lawyer today, 18 June. Vicky’s sister Irene received a Cashier’s Order for the amount, on behalf of her mother.

Our focus now turns solely to the final police report, which is due within a month. In the meantime, we will announce anything of relevance here, and continue to broaden our coverage to include other issues concerning the mistreatment of domestic helpers in Hong Kong.

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The final police report on Vicky’s disappearance and death should be issued within a month. Mr Gil Salceda of the Assistance to Nationals Section at the Philippine Consulate informed Vicky’s sister Irene of the news last Friday, 13 June. Responding to a Consulate inquiry, the police stated that the report would be ready in four weeks.

Any associated information that becomes available before the report is issued will be announced here.

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