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SCENARIO 2 :

Giving Minorities a Helping Hand

Problem and Background

Minorities are often under-served demographics in society, whether they are minorities because of race, ethnicity, disability, sexuality, age, and/or other traits and characteristics. They have various challenges accessing legal services to address their grievances due to their identity group status. For example, ethnic minorities who are new immigrants to Hong Kong have to come to an unfamiliar place and set up new life, while facing many legal and bureaucratic challenges. Their options in terms of accessing the legal system and understanding their legal rights and obligations are limited as they will need to work with different cultures and may face language barriers.

 

Members of a minority group might also face uniquely complex barriers to justice because of statutes connected with their gender, family, employment, and visa situations, among others. For example, an individual who is a member of an ethnic minority group and who is an asylum seeker or foreign domestic worker might face compounding legal issues due to their special constitutional statuses. You should also consider the fact that there are sub-groups of individuals who might belong to one or more minority identity groups.

 

Some barriers might not be legal in nature. They might arise from the limitation of time and availability of particular resources, but their impact in legal services could be significant. For example, language barriers in accessing legal services arising from the limited number of interpreters in Hong Kong for particular languages and dialects. Similarly, you might like to investigate the extent of the problem for people with hearing and/or speech impediments in accessing pro bono and subsidised legal services whether provided by the government or community groups.

 

You are invited to address the barriers of justice faced by minorities and consider how technology can assist. These barriers might or might not have existed but for the trait or characteristic of the user of the legal system, be this a language barrier, physical and mental disability, etc. In the legal sense, some of these barriers could be deemed discriminatory, and some might not. Indeed, current Hong Kong laws do not protect certain traits and characteristics from discrimination and harassment. With today’s powerful computers and mobile devices, barrier-free justice can be advanced not only from an informational perspective. Digital communication and automation tools promise minorities greater access to justice beyond simple online legal reference materials, allowing for remote connections and tele-presence, and streamlining of administrative and bureaucratic steps.

 

Technical Resources

Microsoft Translator Text API: https://azure.microsoft.com/en-us/services/cognitive-services/translator-text-api/

Azure Application templates - Choose from an extensive list of application templates in the Azure Marketplace, such as WordPress, Joomla, and Drupal.

 

Further Readings and Resources

 

  1. The issues of crime and criminal justice in Hong Kong involving ethnic minorities: http://www.law.hku.hk/ccpl/StatusofEthnicMinorities/Chapter8.pdf

  2. The Community Legal Information Centre organised by the University of Hong Kong maintains webpages on common issues related to immigration law: http://www.clic.org.hk/en/topics/immigration/all.shtml

  3. Reference on how the European Union (E.U.) considers access to justice for persons with disabilities under E.U. law: http://www.era-comm.eu/UNCRPD/kiosk/speakers_contributions/413DV06/Leenknecht_pres.pdf

  4. Reference on promoting in the U.S. accessible courtroom technology in advancing disability civil rights law and policy: http://scholarship.law.wm.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1262&context=wmborj