U.S. Department of State 2007 Trafficking in Persons Report - Hong Kong

Hong Kong (Tier 1)

The Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR) of the People's Republic of China is a transit and destination territory for men and women trafficked for the purposes of commercial sexual exploitation and forced labor. Hong Kong is primarily a transit point for illegal migrants, some of whom are subject to conditions of debt bondage, sexual exploitation, and forced labor. To a lesser extent, Hong Kong is a destination for women from the Chinese mainland, Philippines, Indonesia, and Colombia who travel to Hong Kong voluntarily for prostitution or jobs in restaurants or hotels but are deceived or coerced into sexual servitude. Some of the foreign women involved in Hong Kong's commercial sex trade are believed to be trafficking victims. Estimates of international trafficking victims are modest; there have been many reports of debt bondage and confiscation of documents among women in prostitution – consistent with international definitions of trafficking. A small minority of women from the Philippines and Indonesia who go to Hong Kong to work as domestic servants are subjected to exploitation and conditions of involuntary servitude.

The Government of Hong Kong fully complies with the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking. The government continued to implement strong anti-trafficking measures including training law enforcement officials, collecting information on suspected cases of trafficking, and conducting undercover operations in establishments with suspected trafficking victims. The government should consider closer collaboration with source countries of women trafficked for prostitution as well as conducting a public awareness campaign aimed at customers.


The Hong Kong government demonstrated continued law enforcement efforts to combat trafficking in 2006. Hong Kong prohibits all forms of trafficking. Sex trafficking is criminalized through the Immigration Ordinance, the Crimes Ordinance, and the Stowaways Ordinance of 1997. Labor trafficking is criminalized through the Employment Ordinance. Penalties for commercial sexual exploitation are commensurate with those for rape, and penalties for all forms of trafficking are sufficiently stringent. There were no prosecutions of trafficking offenses during the reporting period. Ten suspected traffickers were arrested in three different trafficking cases over the last year. Of those involving women forced into prostitution, one individual was formally charged under the Crimes Ordinance specifically for trafficking women to Hong Kong, five were charged with related offenses, and the rest were released as the criminal cases against the traffickers collapsed following the victims' repatriation. During the year, authorities identified an 11-year-old mainland girl who had been sold by her parents to a Hong Kong employer as an unpaid domestic servant. The girl was sent back to her parents, under monitoring of an international agency, and the employer was prosecuted. There was only one report of Filipinos being lured to transit the HKSAR for jobs on the mainland, only to find that recruiters were unable to find jobs for the majority of them. The Labor and Immigration departments were called on to investigate this report. There have been several cases of domestic workers successfully bringing charges against employers for maltreatment, including physical and sexual abuse that resulted in the employer receiving prison sentences. There is no evidence of law enforcement officials' complicity in trafficking in Hong Kong.


The Government of Hong Kong demonstrated continued efforts to provide protection and assistance to victims of trafficking. Given the low number of documented trafficking victims, Hong Kong's authorities generally refer them to existing social service programs at three government subsidized NGO shelters and one shelter run by the Social Welfare Department. The government encourages victims to assist in the investigation of traffickers and to provide evidence; however many victims were reluctant to do so. Child victims may provide evidence through live television link in court under provision of the Criminal Procedure Ordinance. The Hong Kong government provides legal alternatives to the removal of victims to countries where they may face hardship or retribution. Victims may also initiate civil proceedings for damages or compensation arising from injuries sustained as a result of being trafficked. Hong Kong does not penalize victims for unlawful acts committed as a direct result of their being trafficked. In past cases, women who agreed to act as a witness for the prosecution were as a rule granted immunity and allowed to return to their home country without being charged for any crimes committed as a result of being trafficked. The Hong Kong police have special units to provide for the protection of victims and witnesses of all crimes, including trafficking.


Hong Kong increased efforts to raise awareness in 2006. The government launched a publicity campaign to alert visitors to Hong Kong about the dangers of human trafficking through the web pages of the Security Bureau, law enforcement agencies, the Social Welfare Department and Labor Department. To prevent trafficking among foreign workers, particularly domestics, the Labor Department published "guidebooks" in several languages that explain workers' rights, the role of employment agencies, and services provided by the government. These guidebooks are handed out when workers apply for identity documents and are distributed at the airport, district offices, consulates, offices of labor and migrant groups, post offices, and banks. In March 2007, the Social Welfare Department established a 24-hour crisis hotline that improves coordination among various government departments to deal with reports of sexual violence. In December 2006, the Hong Kong authorities participated in the Asian Organized Crime (AOC) Expert Group Meeting, organized by Interpol, which addressed the issue of trafficking from Southeast Asian countries to Western Europe.


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