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  • Action after unregistered teen's death hit as feeble
    Date:2018-06-12 

    The Immigration Department's follow-up actions on unregistered births were "feeble and ineffective," according to the Office of the Ombudsman, which probed the case of a 15-year-old teenager who jumped to her death from her parents' Repulse Bay flat.

    The teenager and her younger sister were born in Hong Kong but their parents never registered their birth.

    A public outcry over the April 7, 2015 incident prompted the Ombudsman to launch a direct investigation and findings were released yesterday.

    Under the old practice, the department only sent reminders routinely to alert concerned parents but never referred such cases to its investigation division or instituted any prosecution.

    "The situation was extremely undesirable as the follow-up procedure under the Immigration Department's old mechanism was tantamount to inaction," said Ombudsman Connie Lau Yin-hing.

    In the wake of the tragedy, the department immediately reviewed its practice and introduced a new follow-up mechanism, which was put into effect on May 27, 2015 - one-and-a-half months after the teenager's death.

    The new follow-up mechanism requires the department to send letters to remind concerned parents to register their newborn baby as soon as possible. It will also attempt to reach concerned parents using other means.

    It established a liaison mechanism with the Social Welfare Department, the Education Bureau and police so special or doubtful cases can be referred for follow-up actions.

    A special duty team was set up on February 26 this year to handle cases in which newborns are not registered within 42 days after birth.

    Up to May 31 this year, the team handled 611 cases, of which 501 cases were subsequently registered and three were later confirmed to be cases of premature deaths.

    As regards the rest, the team got in touch with parents in 96 cases and it is still trying to reach parents in the remaining 11 cases.

    Under the existing mechanism, the team will first send reminders to concerned parents and contact them by phone. If parents cannot be reached, team members will input those parents' particulars in the department's computer system.

    The Ombudsman said further improvements can be made to the existing follow-up mechanism.

    Recommended improvements include collaboration with hospitals to resolve the problem of incomplete address on birth returns and initiating early intervention in cases of unregistered births.



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