Today’s South China Morning Post editorial urges Hong Kong to take a stronger stance in addressing human trafficking. The Hong Kong government largely rejects the claim that the city has become a hub for traffickers, seemingly turning a blind eye to the problem.
While Hong Kong is a major destination for domestic workers coming from Southeast Asia, the SCMP reports that Hong Kong is also functioning as a base for recruitment agencies who are trafficking Filipino domestic workers to Russia, Turkey, and even Brazil.
A senior Philippine official has told the Post the city is a base for job recruitment fraud in which thousands of Filipino domestic helpers have been trafficked to Russia, Turkey and Brazil for bogus employment. He claimed that more than 4,000 undocumented Filipinos are working in Russia alone, most formerly from Hong Kong. These revelations came to light after the Philippine government slapped a three-week ban on foreign recruitment of its citizens by suspending the processing of overseas employment certificates. Manila cited reports of illegal recruitment and “pernicious activities of individuals preying on Filipinos”.
Confirming the concerns, Philippine consulate labour attaché, Jalilo Dela Torre, said some Hong Kong-registered recruitment agencies had promised helpers high-paying jobs in Moscow, lured them into breaking their contracts here and arranged flights, pocketing agency fees of up to HK$43,000.
Speaking to SCMP, one Filipino woman in Russia recounted how her recruitment agency harassed her family and forced her to pay HK$43,000, but upon arrival found that there was no employer waiting for her.
Hong Kong has repeatedly come under criticism from the US State Department, human rights activists, and lawyers who say that the city needs comprehensive laws to prosecute human traffickers.