Five non-ethnic Chinese illegal workers jailed

4 July 2016

Five non-ethnic Chinese illegal workers comprising one Bangladeshi, one Pakistani and three Vietnamese holding recognisance forms were jailed at Shatin Magistrates' Courts and Fanling Magistrates' Courts on June 30 and July 2.
 
During an anti-illegal employment operation mounted on June 29, officers of the Immigration Department (ImmD) raided two restaurants in Shatin and Causeway Bay. One male and two female illegal workers aged from 40 to 47 were arrested, all of whom are Vietnamese. When intercepted, they were cleaning dishes in the kitchens of the restaurants. Upon identity checking, they produced for inspection recognisance forms issued by the ImmD, which prohibit them from taking employment, while further investigation revealed that they were non-refoulement claimants. In addition, investigators seized copies of forged Hong Kong identity cards which bore the portraits of the arrestees at the scene. During the investigation, all the arrestees admitted to taking up employment illegally to earn money. One of the arrestees also admitted to obtaining a forged Hong Kong identity card for job seeking, and then presenting it at a job interview.
 
Furthermore, the ImmD investigators received referrals from the Hong Kong Police Force in December 2015 and January 2016 to further investigate two illegal employment cases. Enforcement officers raided a recycling depot in Yuen Long and a building in Kwun Tong, where a male Bangladeshi worker aged 33 and a male Pakistani worker aged 28 were respectively found driving a forklift and performing garbage disposal. Upon identity checking, they produced for inspection recognisance forms issued by the ImmD, which prohibit them from taking employment, while further investigation revealed that they were non-refoulement claimants. 
 
The five arrestees, who appeared at Shatin Magistrates' Courts on June 30 and Fanling Magistrates' Courts on July 2 were each charged with taking employment after landing in Hong Kong unlawfully and remaining in Hong Kong without the authority of the Director of Immigration while being a person in respect of whom a removal order or deportation order was in force. They were each sentenced to 15 months' and 21 months' imprisonment respectively. One of the arrestees was also charged with using a forged identity card and was 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.