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Hong Kong court begins hearing on maid residency

Published on Feb 26, 2013 1:03 PM
Demonstrators display placards asking for equal rights outside the court of final appeal in Hong Kong on Feb 26, 2013. A three-day court hearing for a case which will affect whether thousands of domestic maids could be eligible for residency status began in the city. -- PHOTO: AFP 

HONG KONG (AFP) - Hong Kong's top court on Tuesday began hearing a challenge to the right of abode law in a long-running case that could pave the way for thousands of foreign maids to claim residency in the city.

The Court of Final Appeal hearing centres on Filipina maid Evangeline Banao Vallejos, who won a High Court ruling in 2011 granting her the right to request permanent residency status, denied to foreign maids until then.

The government appealed against that ruling last March, successfully arguing the authorities had discretionary power to decide who was eligible for residency and that restrictions on maids were not unconstitutional and discriminatory.

Campaigners for the rights of migrant workers argue that Hong Kong's 300,000 maids, mostly from the Philippines and Indonesia, should not be treated any differently from other foreigners who flock to the former British colony to find work as lawyers, bankers, accountants and managers.

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