High Court Victory gives Family Back Home Chance at Closure for Daughter

April 19, 2021
Category: Cases | Information
(Apple Daily)

The following has been translated from the original article published by Apple Daily on 08 April 2021 18:25 –https://hk.appledaily.com/local/20210408/QE46KBSKW5CLPASDNEGASNYLAM/

4 years ago, a 42-year-old Filipino foreign domestic worker (FDW) arrived in Hong Kong and commenced her employment contract. Four months later, she was found unconscious at her employer’s home, and passed away upon arriving at the hospital. The subsequent autopsy failed to discover any medical reasons of her death. 

The deceased’s sister had told the police that the deceased had always been in good health. However, before her death, the deceased had complained to her sister about insufficient food and excessive work hours, resulting in back and other body pains. She had also been verbally abused by her employer. However, the police did not maintain a record of this information, nor had they sought a witness statement from the employer in a timely fashion.  

The deceased’s sister had previously requested for a death inquest at the Coroner’s Court but was unsuccessful. With the help of an NGO and a pro bono barrister, she filed another request at the Court of First Instance, where the request was allowed. 

The defendant, the Coroner, was not present at the hearing. The deceased was a Filipino FDW who had previously worked in Singapore and the Middle East. She started working for Ms. Wong at Mei Foo Sun Chuen in December 2016. In the following April, she was found unconscious in her room, and passed away upon arrival at the hospital. Her sister then came to Hong Kong to settle the funeral arrangements and to make a statement with the police. 

The plaintiff’s affidavit, which was presented to the court, recalled that the plaintiff  told the police that the deceased had always been in good health. However, shortly after commencing employment in Hong Kong, the deceased complained to her about the inhumane treatment by her employer, such as having to do laundry in the middle of the night. 

Also, while the deceased had been given insufficient food, her employer did not allow her to buy food for herself, such that she could only eat in secret. The deceased also complained of back pains and bodily pains, which could only be relieved with painkillers. 

Agency: other FDWs have also made complaints against the employer 

The barrister pointed out that the deceased had made complaints to the agency, which were ignored. The agency also revealed in court that Ms Wong had a bad track record, as the deceased was already the third employee who accused Ms Wong of inhumane treatment. 

Upon forensic examination, a medical reason for the deceased’s death could not be found apart from the finding that the deceased had taken some painkillers prior to her death. Although the plaintiff had since returned to the Philippines, she and her family were still mired in sorrow and were perplexed about the circumstances leading to the deceased’s death. In 2019, the plaintiff came to Hong Kong, and with the assistance of Justice Without Borders, an NGO, requested for a death inquest. She then obtained copies of witness statements and documents from the police, where she found out that the police had omitted information she had given to them. The death inquest was refused at that time. 

As the circumstances around the deceased’s passing remained a mystery, the plaintiff’s barrister submitted that pursuant to the Coroner’s Ordinance, a death inquest ought to be held to find out the truth for the deceased’s family. In addition, based on the outcome of this inquest, the Coroner’s Court could formulate advice for the Immigration Department, the police, and employment agencies to prevent future incidents. After hearing the submissions, Madam Justice Mimmie Chan ordered for a death inquest to be held, with the reasons for judgment to be handed down later. 


Translated from the original article published by Apple Daily on 08 April 2021 18:25 –https://hk.appledaily.com/local/20210408/QE46KBSKW5CLPASDNEGASNYLAM/