Eleven immigration offenders arrested

16 Dec 2015

A territory-wide enforcement operation codenamed "Twilight" and a series of joint enforcement operations codenamed "Windsand" and "Champion" were mounted by the Immigration Department and other law enforcement agencies on December 14 and yesterday (December 15) to combat illegal employment activities. A total of 10 illegal workers and one suspected employer were arrested.

During operation "Champion" conducted yesterday, enforcement officers raided three target locations including a vegetable stall, a tea shop and a shop under renovation in Cheung Sha Wan and Sham Shui Po. Two illegal workers comprising one man and one woman aged 45 and 47 were arrested.

During operation "Twilight" conducted on December 14, officers of the Immigration Task Force raided five target locations including a garbage collection point, restaurants and stalls. Three illegal workers comprising two men and one woman aged 25 to 36 and a suspected employer were arrested. They were also suspected of using and being in possession of forged Hong Kong identity cards. Among them, one man and one woman were holders of recognisance forms, which prohibit them from taking any employment. One man aged 51 was suspected of employing the illegal workers.

During operation "Windsand" conducted on December 14, five Mainland visitors comprising two men and three women aged 39 to 64 were arrested for breaching their conditions of stay by being involved in suspected parallel goods trading at San Wan Road and Choi Fai Street in Sheung Shui. The goods included milk powder, food, red wine, skin-care products and electronic products.

Since September 2012, a number of "Windsand" operations have been conducted, during which a total of 2 615 Mainlanders and 17 Hong Kong residents were arrested for suspected involvement in parallel goods trading. Of these, 226 Mainlanders were prosecuted for breach of conditions of stay, while the remaining 2 389 people were repatriated. Among those prosecuted, 215 were sentenced to imprisonment for between four weeks and three months and one is pending court hearing, while charges were withdrawn for the other 10 people.

"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.