LegCo Panel on Security Meeting on 12 May 1997

Vietnamese Migrants


At the Panel meeting on 16 December 1996, Members discussed issues relating to Vietnamese migrants (VMs), Vietnamese Refugees (VRs), Vietnamese illegal immigrants (VIIs) and Ex-China Vietnamese illegal immigrants (ECVIIs). This paper reports the latest situation on these issues.

Vietnamese Migrants (VMs)

2. As at 25 April 1997, there were about 2,600 VMs in Hong Kong who were covered by the Comprehensive Plan of Action (CPA) (i.e. VMs who arrived in Hong Kong before 15 June 1995 and were found to be non-refugees). The Administration remains firmly committed to repatriating all VMs to Vietnam as soon as possible.

3. A technical meeting was held in Hanoi on 19 - 20 March with representatives of UK Government and HK Government, the UNHCR and Vietnamese Government attending. The meeting discussed ways to expedite the clearance and repatriation of remaining VMs in Hong Kong. The Vietnamese Government proposed that the three sides should co-operate and take action to bring the repatriation of VMs under the CPA to a conclusion by 31.5.1997.

4. Whilst we welcome and fully agree with the measures proposed to bring an early resolution to the VM problem in Hong Kong, and that we are happy to work on the basis of a 31 May target date, we need to preserve our ability to repatriate any outstanding CPA cases after that date if necessary. We have therefore not been able to sign the Minutes of the meeting and are still discussing this point with the VNG.

5. In the meantime, all three parties have taken steps to implement the measures discussed at the meeting. The Vietnamese Government is clearing VMs for return much more readily. In the first three weeks of April alone, some 1,200 VMs were given clearance. As at 25 April, about 1,900 VMs have been cleared for return, out of a population of 2,600.

6. In conjunction with the UNHCR, we are also redoubling our efforts in repatriating all cleared VMs as soon as possible. Nearly 1,000 CPA VMs have been repatriated to Vietnam in April under voluntary and orderly repatriation programmes. There are, however, some cases where the VM cleared by the Vietnamese Government cannot be repatriated immediately. These are VMs who are involved in court proceedings, medically unfit for travel, serving prison sentences or whose family members have not been cleared for return. We are constantly reviewing these cases with a view to repatriating them as soon as possible.

Vietnamese Illegal Immigrations (VIIs)

7. As at 25 April 1997, there were 1,031 VIIs in Hong Kong (i.e. new arrivals after 15 June 1995). There has been a notable increase in the number of VIIs coming to Hong Kong in the past few months. 772 VIIs have been intercepted so far this year. The vast majority of the VIIs claim that they have come from Haiphong and that they want to seek employment in Hong Kong. We have expressed concern over the high rate of VIIs to the Vietnamese Government and sought their assistance in stemming the outflow of VIIs. We have requested the Vietnamese authorities to expedite the clearance of VIIs for return. Separately, we are seeking the assistance of the Chinese authorities in intercepting the movement of these VIIs in China.

Ex-China Vietnamese Illegal Immigrants (ECVIIs)

8. At the Panel meeting on 16 December 1996, Members asked for a copy of the Privy Council judgement on ECVIIs. A copy of the judgement is attached at Annex I. Pursuant to the judgement, Immigration Department has commenced screening of the ECVIIs concerned. The exercise is expected to be completed before mid-June 1997. The ECVIIs will be repatriated to China or resettled overseas, as appropriate, depending on the results of the screening.

Vietnamese Refugees (VRs)

9. As at 25 April 1997, there were 1,362 VRs remaining in Hong Kong. The UNHCR is trying very hard to pursue resettlement opportunities for them. It is understood that the UNHCR is also persuading some refugees to return to Vietnam voluntarily.

10. Members asked at the Panel meeting on 16 December 1997 whether there was any legal basis for VRs at the First Port of Call, i.e. Hong Kong, to seek political asylum in the United Kingdom. The advice we have obtained is that the UK has never extended the 1951 UN Convention and 1967 Protocol relating to the status of refugees to Hong Kong. The UK has no legal obligation in respect of asylum seekers from Vietnam or elsewhere arriving in Hong Kong as first port or place of call.

Government Secretariat
28 April 1997


Last Updated on 21 August 1998