Ex-judge says she was held at Hong Kong airport
A former Philippine Supreme Court justice who accused Chinese President Xi Jinping of crimes against humanity before the International Criminal Court said she was barred for hours Tuesday from entering Hong Kong.
Conchita Carpio-Morales said she was stopped by immigration authorities and held in a room at Hong Kong’s airport for about four hours and ordered to take a flight back to Manila. She had planned to take a vacation for five days in Hong Kong with her husband, son, daughter-in-law, and two grandchildren, who were all allowed entry.
Hong Kong airport and immigration officials later told her that “there was a mistake” and that she could proceed with her trip to Hong Kong, but she and her family had already decided to return home because of the incident, she said.
“I have never been subjected to this kind of humiliation,” Carpio-Morales told The Associated Press (AP) by telephone while waiting for her flight back to Manila. She said she and her family did not want to take the risk of being subjected to further scrutiny.
Carpio-Morales, 77, is a respected former Supreme Court associate justice and head of the Ombudsman, a special anti-corruption agency. She retired from government service last year.
In March, she and former Foreign Secretary Albert del Rosario took the bold step of filing a complaint against Xi and other Chinese officials over Beijing’s assertive actions in the disputed South China Sea, which they say deprived thousands of fishermen of their livelihoods and destroyed the environment.
They accused Xi and other Chinese officials of turning seven disputed reefs into man-made islands, causing extensive environmental damage, and of blocking large numbers of fishermen, including about 320,000 Filipinos, from their fishing grounds.
Chinese Ambassador Zhao Jianhua called the complaint a “fabrication”. Chinese officials also raised their concern over the complaint in a meeting with Philippine officials in Manila in April, saying the case is “affecting the prestige of our leader,” a Philippine official told the AP on condition of anonymity because he was not authorised to discuss the issue publicly.