Amid a resurgence in the number of Covid-19 cases in Hong Kong, on 19 August a 37-year old Thai man detained at Castle Peak Bay Immigration Centre (CIC) was reported to have tested positive for Covid-19. The Centre for Health Protection subsequently announced that it would test approximately 200 Immigration Department staff and 400 detainees.
On 20 June, more than 20 detainees from India, Pakistan, and various African countries launched a hunger strike in protest over their indefinite detention at the facility. As of 25 August, some detainees remained on strike, after 58 days. At its peak, there were 28 participants in the hunger strike: four detainees have been released and two hospitalised. Upon release from hospital, one person reported being physically abused by detention centre staff. Of those participating in the action, some had been detained for nearly two years, and six had been detained for more than one year. The Immigration Department claimed that the hunger strikers were consuming other food despite their refusal to collect meals from the facility, and that it had been providing counselling for the detainees to discuss their situation. It also said that most of the hunger strikers had criminal records involving serious or violent crimes and were awaiting deportation. The Castle Peak Bay “Concern Group” reported that the hunger strikers had been placed in separate rooms for observation, but that they had not been provided with any medical assistance—in spite of some detainees’ pre-existing conditions. For example, one striker who has a tumor in his left arm has not been given access to the necessary drugs to improve his condition. More than 2,000 people have signed a petition organised by the CIC Concern Group to support the strikers’ action.
In addition to the indefinite detention detainees face at the Castle Peak Bay Immigration Centre, concerns have been raised regarding the deleterious hygiene and medical conditions in the facility. First raised by lawmakers and activists in May (see 12 May update on this platform), the inadequate conditions were again flagged in mid-August when the findings from a survey of 100 detainees, former detainees, and family members were published by the Concern Group. The survey found that 48.72 percent of interviewees thought that they did not have enough access to medical assistance, while 46.15 percent thought that CIC’s facilities were inadequate. Many raised issues such as insufficient dental hygiene products including toothpaste, a lack of hot water in the winter, and a lack of space to hang their laundry.
Responding to concerns regarding detention conditions during the pandemic, the government has detailed the measures that it has taken to prevent and control the virus inside the facility: “All detainees on admission to CIC are required to undergo a medical examination conducted by a duty medical officer to ensure that their health condition is normal and to prevent the transmission of infectious diseases to other detainees. For detainees arriving in Hong Kong from the Mainland or overseas countries within 14 days before admission to CIC, they will be subject to a 14-day quarantine and medical surveillance at a designated area of CIC, during which they will not have any contact with other detainees. In addition, all detainees newly admitted to CIC are required to undergo the COVID-19 viral test. Each detainee will be provided with a surgical mask and have body temperature taken every day.”
- CIC Detainees Right Concern Group, “CIC Hunger Strike Enters its 52nd Day – Press Release,” Facebook, 19 August 2020, https://www.facebook.com/permalink.php?story_fbid=170337637900270&id=108829650717736&__tn__=-R
- CIC Detainees Concern Group, “CIC’s Hunger Strike Enters its Fourth Week – Demand for Stop Indefinite Detention,” Grassmedia Action, 21 July 2020, https://grassmediaction.wordpress.com/2020/07/21/press-release-cics-hunger-strike-enters-its-fourth-week-demand-for-stop-indefinite-detention/
- Grassmedia Action, “Almost 3 Weeks on Hunger Strike: The Castle Peak Black Prison Keeps Disregarding Human Lives, While Supporters are Breaking the Boundaries of Sex and Ethnicity,” Grassmedia Action, 18 July 2020, https://grassmediaction.wordpress.com/2020/07/18/almost-3-weeks-on-hunger-strike-the-castle-peak-black-prison-keeps-disregarding-human-lives-while-supporters-are-breaking-the-boundaries-of-sex-and-ethnicity/
- Grassmedia Action, “In Week Four of Hunger Strike, Migrant Justice and Sex Work Organizers Rally Around Immigration Detainees,” Grassmedia Action, 23 July 2020, https://lausan.hk/2020/week-four-of-hunger-strike-immigration-detainees/
- RTHK HK, “Mass Test at Immigration Centre After Inmate’s Covid,” RTHK, 19 August 2020, https://news.rthk.hk/rthk/en/component/k2/1544689-20200819.htm?spTabChangeable=0
- The Government of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region, “LCQ12: Castle Peak Bay Immigration Centre,” The Government of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region, 17 June 2020, https://www.info.gov.hk/gia/general/202006/17/P2020061700461.htm
- Protesters Protesting On the Conditions of Detention and Indefinite Detention at CIC, (Grassmediaaction, “Almost 3 Weeks on Hunger Strike: The Castle Peak Black Prison Keeps Disregarding Human Lives, While Supporters are Breaking the Boundaries of Sex and Ethnicity,” 18 July 2020, https://grassmediaction.wordpress.com/2020/07/18/almost-3-weeks-on-hunger-strike-the-castle-peak-black-prison-keeps-disregarding-human-lives-while-supporters-are-breaking-the-boundaries-of-sex-and-ethnicity/)