9 February, 2015 (Date Pending)


This section of the toolkit offers recommendations that are aimed at the Government and civil society of Hong Kong. Meaningful change can only be achieved by collaboration and consultation between the Government and civil society. All efforts should be underpinned by the aim of upholding the rights of victims. This section also offers thoughts on ways in which a holistic counter-trafficking strategy can be achieved and this will in turn lead to an improvement in victim identification.

A rights-based approach to human trafficking

Human trafficking is an abhorrent crime that involves gross violations of fundamental human rights. Human trafficking should be viewed as a violation of human rights and not as an immigration crime. If one takes the latter view then victims of trafficking can only be seen as criminals and not as victims of crime. A rights-based approach is a pre-requisite for cooperation between victims and law enforcement/prosecution services. A victim is unlikely to collaborate with the relevant authorities if they feel inadequately protected or looked after. Victim care and protection of victim rights is a core ingredient for successful collaboration between victims and police and hence successful prosecutions.

Adoption Of A National Plan Of Action Against Human Trafficking

A National Plan of Action is often the first step a Government takes towards formulating a national counter-trafficking strategy. This may be following consultation with relevant stakeholders e.g. independent victim support services and/or a range of enforcement agencies or in many cases consultation follows the publishing of the Action Plan. The latter maps out the actions, sets out timelines, defines the parties involved and the objectives of the actions. This provides Governments with a meaningful opportunity to make measured change in a manner that suits the needs of the present time. The key areas to be covered must be Prevention, Protection and Prosecution with victims’ rights being the lynchpin of the Action Plan. Action Plans that focus solely on trafficking as an immigration crime or that single-mindedly focus on the prosecution of traffickers at the expense of victims’ rights are not very likely to get the support of victim support services who are key stakeholders in this process.

A Comprehensive Legislative Framework That Adheres To International Standards

Hong Kong law is in need of an overhaul to bring it on par with standards set out in international instruments such as the ICCPR, CEDAW, ICESCR, CRC. It needs to first adopt a broader, more holistic and all-encompassing definition of trafficking as set out in the Palermo Protocol. The essence of trafficking being exploitation and not movement. Further, the definition of trafficking ought to recognize examples of forced labour practices relating to foreign domestic helpers in Hong Kong. For example, debt bondage situations that arise from placement agencies charging extortionate fees.

The law needs to be holistic from all standpoints. For example, from a law enforcement perspective civil penalties and licensing forfeitures should be applied to employers employing trafficked people, traffickers should be subjected to asset forfeitures, enhanced sentencing should apply for crimes with aggravating features e.g involving children; and money laundering, racketeering and corruption should also be given due consideration.



From the victim’s perspective, the law should provide for secure shelter (temporary and long term as required), psychological support, help with substance abuse, medical care, legal advice, vocational training, residence permits and the right to work in appropriate cases; the right to compensation and/or restitution for losses (pecuniary and nonpecuniary) incurred.

Law enforcement is what ultimately breathes life into a comprehensive legislative framework. The Government has to make the necessary resources and infrastructure available for law enforcement to effectively police the law and for the law to be implemented.

The Need For A Central Referral Mechanism

A central referral system will allow formalizing of victim identification procedures and onward support service referral services. These structures are crucial in ensuring early identification of victims and fair assessment of each suspected case of trafficking. It will also better collaboration between NGO service providers and government structures for enhanced victim support provision.

Capacity Building In Hong Kong

Capacity building in Hong Kong is essential to arm communities and service providers with the right skills and knowledge to protect themselves and the vulnerable victims they deal with. Effective capacity building consists of partnership work, strengthening of civil society and individual organizational development. Training and sharing good practice are effective means of securing capacity building.

Make Counter-Trafficking Core Police Business

The legislative framework is only as effective as the enforcement activities that bring it to life. Human trafficking is organized crime and deserves as much if not more attention than
drug trafficking and corruption investigations. Human trafficking should be a priority for enforcement authorities and should be included as part of the performance indicators for the police and other enforcement personnel. This will provide adequate incentive to ensure that enforcement services take this crime seriously.

Credible And Reliable Data Collection

Fragmented data collection, duplication of data sets by different actors and lack of comprehensive definitions within existing data sources lead to an incomplete picture. Lack of credible and reliable data not only hampers the formulation of a targeted response to Hong Kong’s anti-trafficking needs but also hinders the implementation of existing policies. Systematic management of data relevant to trafficked populations should be a priority for the Government. The National Referral Mechanism offers the opportunity to put in place an effective data collection and management system.


1. Definitions And Characteristics

2. Issues Surrounding Identification Of Victims Of Trafficking

3. Government Response To Human Trafficking

4. Actors Involved In The Identification Process And Their Likely Encounters With Victims

5. Identification Protocols And Questionnaires

6. Child Trafficking

7. Support Services, Victim’s Charter Of Rights

8. Recommendations

9. Annex 1: Generic Exploitation Profiles

10. Annex 2: Training Kit





For further information, please contact:

Archana Sinha Kotecha, Liberty Asia

[email protected]

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