May 21, 2021

Oral Statement to the Legislative Council Panel on Constitutional Affairs

Meeting on 21 May 2018

Delivered by Jacqueline Au, Research and Policy Officer, STOP

On behalf of Stop Trafficking of People (or STOP), I would like to thank the Panel on Constitutional Affairs for the opportunity to give our views today. STOP is a frontline initiative that works to combat human trafficking in and through Hong Kong. We respond to the needs of victims through legal referral and social assistance, outreach, network building and public education.

STOP has made a detailed written submission to today’s meeting. I would like to highlight three points from our submission.

First, we call for the extension of the Palermo Protocol to Hong Kong and the enactment of a comprehensive anti-trafficking law. Human trafficking is a hidden and complex crime. Its victims
include women and girls from vulnerable settings. As a frontline organisation, we see victims struggle daily to access basic supports and legal remedies. Instead of taking a minimum approach to the problem and asking WHY we need a new law. We urge the government to ask WHY NOT and seriously consider the benefits of a comprehensive law, which would provide a clear pathway to justice for victims who are currently voiceless and suffering.

Second, we acknowledge recent efforts by the Government to combat human trafficking. However, we believe greater engagement with civil society would be beneficial, especially in the development, implementation and monitoring of anti-trafficking policies.

Third, we wish to highlight the need for up-to-date research and data collection on sex work and sex trafficking in Hong Kong. Negative stereotypes about sex work coupled with a lack of understanding about sex trafficking, places sex workers in precarious situations where they are often arrested and charged during police raids. It is important to increase knowledge about sex trafficking and training for law enforcement to ensure victims are identified and protected.

These three comments closely reflect recommendations made by the CEDAW Committee in its Concluding Observations. We urge the Panel to specifically address and seriously consider these recommendations in its fourth report to the CEDAW Committee.

Thank you.

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