Ex-ombudsman who filed complaint against Xi at ICC detained at Hong Kong Int’l Airport

Stuart White

The former ombudsman of the Philippines, Conchita Carpio Morales, was detained by Hong Kong immigration officials today after being denied entry at the city’s airport.

Germie Usudan, the Philippine Deputy Consul General to Hong Kong, confirmed Morales’s detention to Coconuts HK this afternoon, but said the reason for her being denied entry was unknown.

“She arrived early this afternoon at around 12 o’clock,” Usudan said just before 4pm this afternoon, noting that Morales was traveling with several companions. “They’re just here for a holiday. The companions were allowed entry to Hong Kong, but there was some problem with [Morales’s] entry, so she was detained.”

Morales, along with the Philippines’ former foreign affairs secretary, joined a group of Filipino fishermen in filing a complaint before the International Criminal Court accusing Chinese President Xi Jinping and other Chinese officials of committing crimes against humanity in implementing Beijing’s “systematic plan to control the South China Sea.”

Though Hong Kong is administered under a separate system, it is still part of the People’s Republic of China, with rights groups in recent months expressing growing alarm at Beijing’s increasing influence in the city’s affairs.

It was unclear, however, what bearing, if any, Morales’s complaint had on her detention.

“I heard just a few minutes ago that she had been allowed entry [to Hong Kong], but she decided to go back to the Philippines with her family this afternoon,” Usudan said. “There was no reason given [for the denial], so we cannot ask her to guess about that.”

Morales reportedly told the Filipino outlet ABS-CBN news just after 3pm that she was still waiting in a separate area of Hong Kong International Airport to board a return flight to the Philippines.

Though ABS-CBN characterized Morales’s return as a deportation, Usudan, the deputy consul, “stressed” it was voluntary, and that Morales had ultimately been allowed to enter Hong Kong.

Immigration officials declined to comment on the detention when reached by Coconuts HK, citing privacy concerns.

Carpio retired as the Philippines’ ombudsman in 2018. In the Philippines, an ombudsman is responsible for investigating and prosecuting high-ranking officers or employees of the government who have been accused of crimes such as graft and corruption.

When Carpio retired, she had a 77 percent conviction rate against erring government officials, a 41 percent increase from her predecessor, according to the Filipino news outlet Rappler.

This article, Ex-ombudsman who filed complaint against Xi at ICC detained at Hong Kong Int’l Airport, originally appeared on Coconuts, Asia's leading alternative media company. Want more Coconuts? Sign up for our newsletters!