19 April 2016
The Immigration Department mounted a series of territory-wide enforcement operations on April 17 and 18, including a joint operation with the Hong Kong Police Force codenamed "Windsand" and an operation conducted by the Immigration Department codenamed "Twilight", to combat illegal employment activities. A total of 12 illegal workers and one suspected employer were arrested.
During operation "Windsand" conducted on April 17, eight Mainland visitors comprising four men and four women aged 21 to 49 were arrested for breaching their conditions of stay by being involved in suspected parallel goods trading at Ka Fu Close in Sheung Shui. The goods included milk powder, skincare products, electronic products and electronic components.
Since September 2012, a number of "Windsand" operations have been conducted, during which a total of 2,768 Mainlanders and 17 Hong Kong residents were arrested for suspected involvement in parallel goods trading. Of these, 228 Mainlanders were prosecuted for breach of conditions of stay, while the remaining 2,540 people were repatriated. Among those prosecuted, 218 were sentenced to imprisonment for between four weeks and three months, while charges were withdrawn for the other 10 people.
During operation "Twilight" conducted on April 18, officers of the Immigration Investigation Sub-division raided 12 target locations including an office, a shop, a salon, restaurants and units under renovation. Four illegal workers comprising two men and two women aged 26 to 43 were arrested. Among them, one man and two women were holders of recognisance forms, which prohibit them from taking any employment, and one man was also suspected of using and being in possession of a Hong Kong identity card related to another person. One man aged 35 was 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 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.