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Promoting a more fair and inclusive society with Justice Centre

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Fighting for a more fair and just society, and promoting the right of marginalized people – this is what Justice Centre is all about. Headed in Hong Kong by Executive Director Piya Muqit out of theDesk Sai Wan, Justice Centre’s works to promote the idea of a more inclusive society in Hong Kong where people from all countries of origin enjoy dignity, human rights and meaningful access to justice. After recently moving back to theDesk Sai Wan, we wanted to catch up with Piya on the important work they are carrying out, and also understand how co-working helps support their process:

What is the core mission of Justice Centre?

We envision Hong Kong as a fair and inclusive society where even the most marginalized enjoy fundamental rights and access to justice. We strive to strengthen the rule of law in Hong Kong. The Clients we offer our services to and advocate on behalf of are asylum seekers, refugees, victims of torture which includes Hong Kong residents, victims of human trafficking including internally trafficked individuals, and victims of forced labor.

Piya Muqit, Justice Centre Hong Kong’s Executive Director

What drew you towards this issue?

As a child who was born first-generation British, with parents who were economic migrants to the UK from Bangladesh, I grew up witnessing injustice based particularly on race, religion and nationality. I was in a privileged position of benefiting from higher education and I wanted to ensure I used my skills to advocate on behalf of people who were invisible or ignored in society, but also to empower them to speak on their own behalf.

How do you strive to bring about change in this area?

We enable our clients to access their rights through legal and psychosocial support, policy, advocacy, and research. We want to help bring about systemic change in Hong Kong using an evidence-based approach through our research like Coming Clean and Not Stopping Here.

In May 2015, Justice Centre interviewed 16 individuals: refugees currently seeking protection in Hong Kong as well as descendants of refugees. Each interviewee was photographed by Xyza in a location they chose to reflect their story and their message.

What can people do to help?

Donate. We have limited local funding because of the work we do and the people we help in Hong Kong. Our work is specialized and we rely on funding for our programs so we can reach as many marginalized groups as possible, and work to ensure everyone can have meaningful access to justice.

Do you find the communal aspect of co-working has an impact on your work when compared to a traditional office space?

Absolutely. In a co-working space that has a diverse membership, we find new audiences and allies to help us deliver our work and to provide staff with support and a collegiate working environment. When I was a lawyer in Scotland my workspace, the Faculty of Advocates Library in Edinburgh was a co-working space that helped foster professional relationships I still maintain since 2005. 

What are your criteria for selecting an office location?

Accessibility for our clients. Professionalism from the management of the co-working space. Shared facilities which are conducive and not a hindrance to our work, and most importantly the culture of the space and it’s members. We have worked in TST, Sai Ying Pun, Sai Wan, Jordan and now back to Sai Wan. Our staff are agile and flexible and our clients have been patient and gracious. Location is secondary. The priority for us was the co-work space itself.

What prompted you to move to theDesk Sai Wan?

We chose theDesk Sai Wan firstly because of the professionalism of the staff but also because of how seamlessly theDesk operates as a business. We greatly appreciate the efforts to connect members through events and through Slack. Sai Wan also just has a great vibe and all our staff and clients feel comfortable here.

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