§ Mr. Jacques Arnold
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will make a statement on Vietnamese migrants in Hong Kong.
§ Mr. Hurd
On 29 October, the British, Hong Kong and Vietnamese Governments signed a statement of understanding for the orderly repatriation from Hong Kong of Vietnamese illegal immigrants—that is, those who, having left Vietnam clandestinely, have been determined under the screening procedures monitored by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees not to be refugees.
The internationally agreed comprehensive plan of action provision that all those who are not refugees should 12W return home will now be implemented in stages. Vietnamese who, having left Vietnam clandestinely, arrive in Hong Kong from 29 October, will be screened on arrival in accordance with the agreed UNHCR procedures and the provisions of the CPA and Hong Kong law. For those screened out, there will be a full appeals procedure conducted by an independent review board. The screening procedures will be monitored by the UNHCR who will have full access to the migrants throughout the process and will help asylum seekers to prepare appeals. Those migrants who are screened out and whose appeals fail or who decide not to appeal will be offered voluntary repatriation with a resettlement allowance. Only those who refuse this option will be returned under the new arrangement.
Now that the Government of Vietnam have accepted the principle of return of those who are not refugees to Vietnam under the CPA, we will be discussing with them the extension of the scheme to migrants who arrived in Hong Kong before 29 October.
The Vietnamese Government have guaranteed that no illegal immigrant who returns to Vietnam will face persecution. They will continue to facilitate the monitoring of all those who return, by the UNHCR and others, to ensure that these guarantees are fully respected. In the last two and a half years more than 11,000 Vietnamese migrants have returned voluntarily to Vietnam without a single substantiated case of persecution. We hope that in due course Members of Parliamant will be able to visit Hong Kong and Vietnam to see how the return arrangements are working.