A total of 27 migrant workers were rescued by the police from a flat in Ho Lan Un district on Wednesday, a Judiciary Police (PJ) spokesperson said at a special press briefing on Thursday.
Two suspects were arrested.
The spokesperson said the police received a call from a foreign woman asking for help at around noon on Wednesday. After tracing the call, the police went to a flat in Rua Gago Coutinho in the afternoon, where they found 28 foreign women crowded in an 800-square-foot flat, one of whom turned out to be one of the two suspects.
The victims comprised two Filipinos, nine Bangladeshis and 16 Indonesians.
One of the victims had been locked in the flat since January 24. It was one of the new arrivals who contacted the police on Wednesday.
The spokesperson said that the 27 migrant workers, aged between 29 and 55 years, were hired by a Hong Kong employment agency for overseas workers. When they were fired, the agency sent them to Macau and offered to find them new employment in Hong Kong for a fee of HK$5,000.
Upon arrival in Macau, their travel documents were taken from them and the door of the flat was locked by the suspect, the spokesperson said, adding the police believe that the agency was trying to prevent them from getting a job in Macau.
According to research conducted by the Hong Kong Catholic Commission of Labour Affairs last year, migrant workers’ employment placement fee can be anything from HK$6,000 upwards.
By Hong Kong’s migrant worker laws, workers who have their contract terminated are required to return to their place of origin within a fortnight.
According to the spokesperson, the first suspect is a 51-year-old Indonesian woman surnamed Jaino who was employed by the second suspect to watch over the locked-up women and to prepare meals for them.
The second suspect is a 48-year-old unemployed Hong Kong man surnamed Fung who was paid by the agency. Fung allegedly hired Jaino to look after the migrant workers, paying her HK$4,000 for the job. Fung’s role in the crime could not be determined as, according to the spokesperson, Fung refused to co-operate.
The suspects have been transferred to the Public Prosecution Office (MP) for further questioning and possible arraignment on false imprisonment charges, the spokesperson said. (macaunews/macaupost)