Fifteen immigration offenders arrested

19 February 2016

A territory-wide enforcement operation codenamed "Twilight" and a joint operation codenamed "Windsand" were mounted by the Immigration Department and the Hong Kong Police Force from February 16 to 18 to combat illegal employment activities. A total of 12 illegal workers and three suspected employers were arrested.

During operation "Twilight" on February 17 and 18, officers of the Immigration Task Force raided 23 target locations including restaurants, a food stall, warehouses, an office, a salon, a massage centre, a refuse collection point and residential flats. Four illegal workers comprising three men and one woman aged from 27 to 47 were arrested. Among them, one man was a holder of a recognisance form, which prohibits him from taking any employment and he was also suspected of using and being in possession of a forged Hong Kong identity card. Two men and one woman aged 27 to 52 were suspected of employing the illegal workers.

During operation "Windsand" conducted on February 16, eight Mainland visitors comprising one man and seven women aged 33 to 50 were arrested for breaching their conditions of stay by being involved in suspected parallel goods trading at Po Wan Road and Ka Fu Close in Sheung Shui. The goods included milk powder, food, daily necessities, skin-care products, electronic components and electronic products.

Since September 2012, a number of "Windsand" operations have been conducted, during which a total of 2 712 Mainlanders and 17 Hong Kong residents were arrested for suspected involvement in parallel goods trading. Of these, 227 Mainlanders were prosecuted for breach of conditions of stay, while the remaining 2 485 people were repatriated. Among those prosecuted, 217 were sentenced to imprisonment for between four weeks and three months and charges were withdrawn for the other 10 people.

"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," 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.