Archive for August, 2008

Bethune House in Jordan on Hong Kong’s Kowloon side provides temporary accommodation for domestic helpers who have been wronged by their employers and are seeking justice through the Labour Tribunal, the courts or both. The organisation urgently needs help with food and monetary donations.

The House has 22 bed spaces but is currently sheltering just over 60 residents who have been exploited and abused. It only has enough rice to feed these women for around a week. Anything you can give will be very much appreciated.

Details are as follows.




The Bethune House Migrant Women’s Refuge provides temporary shelter for domestic helpers with


We urgently need donations of foodstuffs such as rice, coffee, cooking oil, sugar and milk to feed our residents

Tax deductible CASH donations will also be accepted. Cheques should be payable to:

“The Bethune House Migrant Women’s Refuge, LTD.”

Address: c/o Mission for Migrant Workers
St. John’s Cathedral, 4-8 Garden Road, Central

Tel: (+852) 2537-1333 or (+852) 9488-9044


The Bethune House Migrant Women’s Refuge Limited is a registered charitable institution under the Companies Ordinance (Cap 32) of Hong Kong


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Recent bad weather in the Philippines has barred Sister Aida Casambre from travelling to Batangas and speaking to Vicky’s elderly mother about what has been happening with the investigation into her daughter’s disappearance and death here in Hong Kong. Fortunately, though, Vicky’s aunt Edith was in the country last week and spoke about the situation.

Edith reports that Vicky’s mother was unaware of the continuing investigation, and had presumed that the case was closed without any detailed explanation offered for her daughter’s death. Hopefully an inquest will help to remedy that situation.

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We still have no news about whether the Coroner will order an inquest into Vicky’s death. As that decision will necessarily be made without public consultation, we will only know of the outcome after the fact or if any information is leaked to the newspapers.

In the meantime, and presuming that the police have not identified a crime in their report, the following information from the Judiciary’s website indicates that an inquest “may” be held when a person dies:

  • suddenly
  • by accident
  • by violence
  • under suspicious circumstances
  • and when the dead body of a person is found in or brought into Hong Kong

The Coroner’s Ordinance of 1997 (Chapter 504 of the Laws of Hong Kong) indicates that the first 4 categories are conditional. In other words, the death can happen suddenly, or by accident, or by violence or under suspicious circumstances, as long as the body is found in or brought to Hong Kong.

At least 1 of the first 4 conditions (suspicious circumstances) is met in Vicky’s case.

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As mentioned briefly in the South China Morning Post today, 14 August, the North Lantau police have finalised their investigation into Vicky’s disappearance and death. Their findings have not yet been made public.

In line with standard police procedure, the report has been forwarded to the Coroner, who will consider whether an inquest is necessary.

Given the publicity surrounding both Vicky’s death and the investigation into it, an inquest seems likely, but is in no way guaranteed. Further news will be reported here as soon as it becomes available.

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For anyone with enough time to read through it, Migration and Domestic Helpers is a blog well worth visiting. Maintained by a woman who spends time in both the Philippines and Hong Kong, the blog covers the many problems faced by migrant workers in the region.

The blog’s author, Helly, writes that:

I work with domestic workers in need of help due to underpayment of wages, premature termination of the employment contract, passport confiscation, or excessive placement or training fees in the home country. The majority of the women I encounter are Filipino and Indonesian. This blog is my attempt to understand the reasons why migrant workers are vulnerable to abuse and exploitation.

Particularly interesting are Helly’s observations about a severance pay dispute involving “Remia”, a Filipino domestic helper here in Hong Kong. This sort of thing is happening in Discovery Bay with increasing frequency.

Hopefully we’ll see some updates from Helly soon.

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“RosesmdCW”, a Filipino domestic helper in Clearwater Bay, has been following Vicky’s case since we began posting news about it here. She left a long comment on the Thorough Investigation? page last week that deserves to be shown here in full because it gives yet another example of how Hong Kong is failing in its duty of care towards migrant workers.

The comment has been edited slightly to ensure clarity, and broken into paragraphs to emphasise the main points. Further comments on this or any other case are very welcome.

I have been reading about “VICKY” and what’s happening with her case now; it really makes me sad to think that up to now nothing has happened.

I have been here in Hong Kong for almost 14 years now, and it makes me sad to say that most of us believe that the “LAW” here in Hong Kong is much better than in the Philippines, but yes I do agree that the discrimination here is much worse than I have ever imagined. If you are only a mere servant, even in cases of emergency, people here will just ignore you.

I have experienced going to the emergency section of the government hospital several times with a severe stiff neck pain, and still the staff haven’t attended to me immediately (you have to wait 2 to 3 hours before being attended).

I took my sister to one of the hospitals yesterday as she was bleeding, but she was still sent home and advised by the doctor to wait for an appointment on November 21, 2008. My question here is: What does “emergency” mean? Does emergency mean that you should be drawing your last breath to be considered?

I really can’t understand the hospital rules here … I saw people waiting at the emergency section with just slight problems. To make matters worse for my sister, she was immediately terminated by her employer when they knew she was to attend Emergency! They had objected to her going to see the doctor and made her continue work even though she was in pain and bleeding.

I wish the government would really act on this, and not wait until the reputation of Hong Kong deteriorates further.

If you know anyone in a situation like this, please ask them to contact Helpers for Domestic Helpers, or another group that can help with arranging action through the Labour Tribunal. What “RosesmdCW” describes is not a termination but a contract breach by the employer.

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The Philippine Consulate has again contacted the Tung Chung police to ask about progress in Vicky’s case. Mr Gil Salseda of the Assistance to Nationals Section passed on the news when contacted by a member of the Justice for Vicky concern group late last week. As soon as we have word of an official reply we will report it here.

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