Forty immigration offenders arrested

4 March 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 March 2 to 3 to combat illegal employment activities. A total of 11 illegal workers, two suspected employers, 25 overstayers and two persons suspected of aiding and abetting other people overstaying in Hong Kong were arrested. 
 
During the operation on March 2, Immigration Task Force officers raided two target locations including an office and a residential flat. Two illegal workers comprising two women aged 43 and 55 were arrested. Among them, one woman was suspected of being in possession of and using a Hong Kong identity card which relates to another person. One man aged 59 was suspected of employing the illegal workers. 
 
During operation "Windsand" conducted on March 2, eight Mainland visitors comprising six men and two women aged 23 to 49 were arrested for breaching their conditions of stay by being involved in suspected parallel goods trading at Castle Peak Road - San Tin in Lok Ma Chau, as well as at San Wan Road in Sheung Shui. The goods included milk powder, food, daily necessities, cosmetics and mobile phones.
 
Since September 2012, a number of "Windsand" operations have been conducted, during which a total of 2 724 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 2 497 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 Among those prosecuted, 217 were sentenced to imprisonment for between four weeks and three months and charges were withdrawn for the other 10 people.
 
During operation "Twilight" conducted on March 3, Immigration Task Force officers raided six target locations including a restaurant and residential flats. Twenty nine persons were arrested. One female illegal worker aged 48 was arrested in Yau Ma Tei. She was a holder of a recognisance form, which prohibits her from taking any employment. One man aged 61 was suspected of employing the illegal worker. Moreover, 25 overstayers comprising 12 men and 13 women aged 27 to 53, and two men aged 23 and 39 suspected of aiding and abetting other people overstaying in Hong Kong, were arrested during the operation at a residential flat in Sham Shui Po.
 
"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. Any person who contravenes a condition of stay in force in respect of him shall be guilty of an offence and shall be liable on conviction to 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.