Hong Kong court begins hearing on maid residency
The Court of Final Appeal hearing, which centres on Filipina maid Evangeline Banao Vallejos, could also reopen the controversial issue of whether children born in Hong Kong to mainland Chinese parents have the right to stay.
Vallejos 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.
Presenting arguments to the court on behalf of Vallejos and another applicant, lawyer Michael Fordham said: "If... your presence is lawful and your presence is for seven years continuously... you would expect to succeed."
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.
Most of those workers are eligible to apply for permanent residency, granting them additional rights and access to government services once they have lived in the city for at least seven years.
"This appeal is about justice and fair application of the law against discrimination and social exclusion," activist Dolores Ballabares told AFP.
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