A Hong Kong court has ruled that a law banning foreign maids from settling permanently in the city was unconstitutional - a victory for longtime domestic helpers in the city, various news reports said.
A Filipino maid in Hong Kong won the opening legal battle Friday in her fight for permanent residency, with a court ruling that an immigration provision excluding the city's hundreds of thousands of foreign maids was unconstitutional, said an AP report in the Seattle Post Intelligencer. Justice Johnson Lam, ruling in the Court of First Instance, rejected arguments by Hong Kong government lawyers that the maids did not have the same residency status as other foreign residents. Lam said that the immigration provision denying the maids the right to gain permanent residency after seven years - as other foreign residents can - was inconsistent with the Basic Law, Hong Kong's mini-constitution. According to a Reuters report on GMA News, the decision to grant Evangeline Banao Vallejos the right to apply for residency under the Basic Law could also draw in Beijing, which might seek to reinterpret the laws under which the territory is governed, analysts said. A big concern among some politicians in Hong Kong is that the verdict favoring the helper would force the government to ask Beijing for an interpretation of the city's constitution because of fears of an influx of migrants. In 1999, a ruling by Hong Kong's highest court that granted the right of abode to many Chinese citizens, was later overturned by China's top legal body - the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress. That move provoked widespread concern with legal experts saying it undermined Hong Kong's judicial independence. The Reuters report said the city's immigration ordinance excludes some 290,000 foreign domestic workers - 146,000 from Indonesia and 139,000 from the Philippines - from permanent residency. Of these, 117,000 have been continuously working in Hong Kong for more than 7 years and potentially eligible for residency based on the court's judgment. FULL STORYHK court backs Filipino woman's fight for residency (GMA News/Reuters) Filipino maid wins landmark HK ruling on residency (Seattle Post Intelligencer/AP) PHOTO CREDITLjubisa Bojic on FlickrCC BY 2.0
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