Nineteen immigration offenders arrested

21 Aug 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 (August 20) to combat illegal employment activities. A total of 14 illegal workers and five suspected employers were arrested.

During operation "Twilight", officers of the Immigration Task Force raided four target locations including a residential flat and recycling centres. Three illegal workers and two employers were arrested. The three illegal workers comprised two men and one woman aged from 34 to 55. Among them, two men were holders of recognisance forms, which prohibit them from taking any employment. One man and one woman aged 23 and 40 were suspected of employing the illegal workers.

During operation "Champion", enforcement officers raided 30 target locations including restaurants and stalls in Mong Kok district. Eleven illegal workers and three employers were arrested. The 11 illegal workers comprised four men and seven women aged from 20 to 55. Among them, two men and one woman were holders of recognisance forms, which prohibit them from taking any employment. In addition, two men and another woman were suspected of using and being in possession of a forged Hong Kong identity card.  One man and two women aged from 36 to 53 were 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.