Twenty-two immigration offenders arrested

7 Oct 2015

A series of territory-wide enforcement operations codenamed "Twilight" and "Breakthrough" were mounted by the Immigration Department to combat illegal employment activities from October 5 to 7. A total of 17 illegal workers and five suspected employers were arrested.

During the operations, Immigration officers raided 59 target locations, including a market stall, restaurants, a laundry factory, retail stalls and hostels. Seventeen illegal workers comprising nine men and eight women aged 24 to 57 were arrested. Among them, five men and four women were holders of recognisance forms which prohibit them from taking any employment. In addition, five men and five women among the 17 arrested illegal workers were suspected of using and being in possession of forged Hong Kong identity cards. Five men aged 28 to 44 were suspected of employing the illegal workers.

"Visitors are not allowed to take up 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. Aiders and abettors are also liable to prosecution and penalties. The Immigration Department will continue to take enforcement action with related law enforcement departments against the offences concerned," 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 Hong Kong identity card or a Hong Kong identity card related to another person. 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.