Vietnamese, Bangladeshi and Pakistani illegal workers jailed

3 June 2016

Three illegal workers comprising one Vietnamese illegal immigrant, one Bangladeshi and one Pakistani were jailed at Shatin Magistrates' Courts yesterday (June 2). 
 
During an anti-illegal worker operation mounted on May 31, investigators of the Immigration Department (ImmD) raided a residential estate in Tuen Mun. A male Vietnamese, aged 24, was found to be a cleaning worker. After record checking, it was revealed that he was an illegal immigrant in Hong Kong. Furthermore, a copy of a forged Hong Kong identity card which bore his portrait was seized by the investigators at the scene.
 
In February this year, the ImmD received an enquiry from a cleaning service company which cast doubt on the Hong Kong identity card produced by a former employee. After record checking, the information on the Hong Kong identity card was found to be different from the official record. After further investigation, a female Bangladeshi, aged 26, was arrested on May 31. The woman was found to be a holder of a recognisance form issued by the ImmD, which prohibits her from taking employment, and it was also revealed that she was a non-refoulement claimant.
 
In addition, ImmD investigators received a referral from the Hong Kong Police Force in May to further investigate an illegal employment case. Enforcement officers raided a warehouse in Lok Ma Chau. A male Pakistani, aged 30, was found conveying goods inside the premises. Upon identity checking, he was found to be a non-refoulement claimant and holder of recognisance form issued by the ImmD, which prohibits him from taking employment.
 
The three arrestees were each charged at Shatin Magistrates' Court yesterday with taking up employment after landing in Hong Kong unlawfully and remaining in Hong Kong without the authority of the Director of Immigration or while being a person in respect of whom a removal order or deportation order was in force. They pleaded guilty to the charges and were each sentenced to 15 months' imprisonment. Two of the arrestees were also charged with using a forged identity card and were sentenced to 15 months' imprisonment. All charges are to run concurrently.
 
The ImmD spokesman warned that, as stipulated in section 38AA of the Immigration Ordinance, illegal immigrants or people who are the subject of a removal order or a deportation order are prohibited from taking any employment, whether paid or unpaid, or establishing or joining in any business. Offenders are liable upon conviction 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 was an offence to use or possess a forged Hong Kong 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.