Seventeen immigration offenders arrested

7 Jul 2015

A territory-wide enforcement operation codenamed "Twilight" and a joint operation codenamed "Champion" were mounted by the Immigration Department and other law enforcement agencies yesterday (July 6) to combat illegal employment activities. A total of 13 illegal workers and four suspected employers were arrested.

During operation "Twilight", officers of the Immigration Task Force raided seven target locations including restaurants, stalls and a retail shop. Seven illegal workers and three employers were arrested. The seven illegal workers comprised two men and five women aged from 24 to 50. Among them, two were holders of recognisance forms which prohibit them from taking any employment. Another two women were each suspected of using and being in possession of a forged Hong Kong identity card. Two men and one woman aged from 29 to 46 were suspected of employing the illegal workers.

During operation "Champion", enforcement officers raided 20 target locations including restaurants, stalls and massage centres in Mong Kok district. Six illegal workers and one employer were arrested. The six illegal workers comprised two men and four women aged from 30 to 43. Among them, three women were holders of recognisance forms, which prohibit them from taking any employment. One man aged 49 was suspected of employing the illegal workers.

"Visitors are not allowed to take employment in Hong Kong, whether paid or unpaid, without the permission of the Director of Immigration. Offenders are liable to prosecution and upon conviction face a maximum fine of $50,000 and up to two years' imprisonment," an Immigration Department spokesman said.

The spokesman warned that it is an offence for illegal immigrants or people who are the subject of a removal order or a deportation order to take any employment or to establish or join in any business. Offenders are liable to a maximum fine of $50,000 and up to three years' imprisonment. The Court of Appeal has issued a guideline ruling that a sentence of 15 months' imprisonment should be applied in such cases.

The spokesman also warned that it is an offence to use or possess a forged identity card. Offenders are liable to prosecution and a maximum penalty of a $100,000 fine and up to 10 years' imprisonment.

The spokesman appealed to employers not to employ illegal workers, warning that it is an offence to employ people who are not lawfully employable. The maximum penalty is a fine of $350,000 and imprisonment for three years. It is also an offence if an employer fails to inspect the job seeker's identity card or, if the job seeker does not have a Hong Kong permanent identity card, his or her valid travel document. The maximum penalty for failing to do so is a fine of $150,000 and imprisonment for one year. To deter unlawful employment, the High Court laid down sentencing guidelines in 2004 reaffirming that it is a serious offence to employ someone who is not legally employable, and stating that the employer of an illegal worker should be given an immediate custodial sentence.