Vietnamese illegal worker jailed

8 July 2016

A Vietnamese illegal worker holding an Immigration recognisance form was jailed at Shatin Magistrates' Courts yesterday (July 7).

During an operation codenamed "Swordfish" mounted on July 5, Immigration Department (ImmD) investigators found a female Vietnamese worker aged 48 working as an odd-job worker in the kitchen of a restaurant in Shau Kei Wan. Upon identity checking, she produced for inspection a recognisance form issued by ImmD, which prohibits her from taking employment. Further investigation revealed that she was a non-refoulement claimant. She also admitted under caution that she had used a forged Hong Kong identity card for job-seeking and had taken up illegal employment for monetary reward. In addition, an employer suspected of employing the illegal worker was arrested and the investigation is ongoing.

The arrested worker pleaded guilty to the charges at Shatin Magistrates' Courts yesterday. She was charged with one count of using a forged Hong Kong identity card and one count of taking up employment while being a person who remains in Hong Kong without the authority of the Director of Immigration after having landed in Hong Kong unlawfully. She was sentenced to imprisonment for 15 months for each charge, with two months of the second sentence to run consecutively, making a total of 17 months' imprisonment.

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 is 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.