Sixteen immigration offenders arrested

26 January 2016

A territory-wide enforcement operation codenamed "Twilight" and a joint operation codenamed "Champion" were mounted by the Immigration Department, the Hong Kong Police Force and the Labour Department on January 25 to combat illegal employment activities. A total of 12 illegal workers and four suspected employers were arrested.

During operation "Twilight", officers of the Immigration Task Force raided four target locations including restaurants, an office and a food processing center. Nine illegal workers comprising five men and four women aged 24 to 58 were arrested. One man and one woman aged 21 and 50 were suspected of employing the illegal workers.

During operation "Champion", enforcement officers raided 23 target locations including an elderly home, restaurants and units under renovation in North Point and Chai Wan districts. Three illegal workers comprising three women aged 26 to 46 were arrested. Among them, one woman was a holder of recognisance form, which prohibits her from taking any employment, and she was also suspected of using and being in possession of a forged Hong Kong identity card. One man and one woman aged 33 and 55 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.