Falun Gong discrimination claim rejected

15 Feb


Falun Gong discrimination claim rejected
The Standard By: Nishika Patel
The Immigration Department’s refusal to allow Taiwanese Falun Gong members to enter Hong Kong during the 10th handover anniversary was not motivated by religious discrimination, a high court judge said yesterday as he dismissed the group’s application for a judicial review.Court of First Instance judge Andrew Cheung branded the case “weak if not wholly unarguable.”The group alleged that the Immigration Department had notified airlines that Falun Gong members would be unwelcome in Hong Kong between June 28 and July 1 last year.

The Falun Gong argued that this “exclusion policy” was a result of “pure religious discrimination.”

Cheung said: “Whatever may have been the true reasons for the refusal of entry, it could not be religious discrimination as such. The hard fact is that many Falun Gong practitioners from overseas have been allowed to come to Hong Kong both before and after the relevant period in question for various purposes.” Cheung also concluded that the Taiwanese protesters were not protected by Hong Kong’s Basic Law because they were only in the airport’s restricted arrival hall and not “in” the SAR.

The Immigration Department’s denial of entry to hundreds of Taiwanese practitioners was also found to be a one- off incident which did not infringe the rights of Falun Gong to develop relations with believers elsewhere.

The association was criticized for deliberately misleading the court into believing there was an urgent need for a judicial review.

The judge said the applicant, Kan Hung-cheung, spokesman for the Hong Kong Association of Falun Dafa, had not provided the necessary information to the court when he applied for an urgent review, which was granted by the court on June 30.

In August 2007, the director of immigration made an application to the court to overturn this decision, saying Kan had not disclosed the full facts to the court. These were that many of the practitioners who sought permission to enter Hong Kong between June 27 and 30 had held unlawful and obstructive protests in the restricted area at the arrival hall of Hong Kong airport, disrupting operations.

Although the judge accepted that Kan had not been aware of the incidents at the time he made the application, he added that Kan should have made efforts to find out before he applied for the urgent review.

(The Standard, February 14, 2008)

Original text from: http://www.thestandard.com.hk/news_detail.asp?pp_cat=30&art_id=61518&sid=17585528&con_type=1


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