Seven non-ethnic Chinese illegal workers jailed

18 July 2016

Seven non-ethnic Chinese illegal workers comprising one Fijian, two Indians, two Indonesians and two Pakistanis holding recognisance forms were jailed at Shatin Magistrates' Courts on July 15.

During a joint operation with the Hong Kong Police Force codenamed "Champion" conducted on May 3, enforcement officers found two male Indonesian workers aged 30 and 41 cleaning a vehicle at a car washing shop at Kam Sheung Road in Yuen Long. Upon identity checking, they produced for inspection recognisance forms issued by the Immigration Department (ImmD), which prohibit them from taking up employment, and further investigation revealed that they were non-refoulement claimants.

In addition, during a joint operation with the Hong Kong Police Force and the Labour Department also codenamed "Champion" conducted on July 12, enforcement officers found one male Fijian, two male Indian and two male Pakistani workers aged 23 to 52 setting up stalls at Tung Choi Street in Mong Kok. Upon identity checking, they produced for inspection recognisance forms issued by the ImmD, which prohibit them from taking up employment, and further investigation revealed that four of them were non-refoulement claimants.

The seven illegal workers arrested were charged at Shatin Magistrates' Courts on July 15 with taking up employment without the authority of the Director of Immigration after landing in Hong Kong unlawfully and remaining in Hong Kong or while being a person in respect of whom a removal order or deportation order was in force. After the trial, they were sentenced to imprisonment for periods ranging from 15 months to 22 months and three weeks.

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 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.