A tip-off about abuse in a care home for the disabled led to an undercover investigation that culminated in the centre being closed down – and won a Hong Kong news website a Human Rights Press Award.
Chinese-language news outlet HK01 used a hidden camera to document the alleged sexual abuse and neglect of some of society’s most vulnerable at the Bridge of Rehabilitation in Hong Kong. After the story broke, the home’s licence was revoked – but the reporter at the heart of the story says more needs to be done to help the disabled in the city.
Lung Yuen Ki and the HK01 team won the award for Best Chinese News Feature for their piece, Abuse at a care centre for the disabled. The story was picked up by other Hong Kong media.
HK01’s damning report revealed that there had been at least six deaths at the troubled care home over eight months in 2016, including that of a 14-year-old boy who had fallen out of a window and only taken to hospital when spotted by passers-by.
“We came across this story from Legislative Councillor Fernando Cheung. He and his colleagues told us about the alleged sexual abuse and at least six suspicious deaths in the care home,” said Lung. “We contacted and interviewed several sources, including the workers of the care home, the families of the victims, and visited the care home with a hidden camera to prove the abuse.”
Despite winning the confidence of staff at the centre, Lung’s team were shocked to find that some families of the care home residents were aware of the abuse but felt helpless to report it.
“Some families we came across during the interviews rejected to ask for help even though they know the care homes were in a bad condition because of lack of choices. Moreover, some parents rejected to ask for help even though they knew their children had been sexually abused as they considered it shameful and inglorious in Chinese society,” Lung said.
Because the care home had opened before 2011, it was not subject to the 2011 Residential Care Homes (Persons with Disabilities) Ordinance, which requires care homes to comply with licensing standards. Instead, it held a temporary licence while making improvement works to meet the licensing requirements. Before HK01’s exposé, the Social Welfare Department of Hong Kong had done little to regulate non-qualified care homes, Lung said. Once the story broke, authorities revoked the Certificate of Exemption of the care home.
“But the public funds for disabled care homes remain the same,” Lung said, adding: “We hope the government can put more resources to the disabled.”