Three Vietnamese illegal workers jailed

1 August 2016

Three Vietnamese illegal workers holding immigration recognisance forms were jailed at Shatin Magistrates' Courts on July 29 and 30.
 
During an anti-illegal worker operation mounted on July 27, Immigration Department (ImmD) investigators found two male Vietnamese workers aged 34 and 58 working as porters at a logistics centre in Kwai Chung. Upon identity checking, they produced for inspection recognisance forms issued by the ImmD, which prohibit them from taking employment, and further investigation revealed that they were non-refoulement claimants. They were also suspected of using and being in possession of suspected forged Hong Kong identity cards. An employer suspected of employing the two illegal workers was also arrested and the investigation is ongoing.
      
Furthermore, during an anti-illegal worker operation mounted on July 28, ImmD investigators found a female Vietnamese worker aged 37 hawking outside a construction site in Tuen Mun. Upon identity checking, she produced for inspection a recognisance form issued by the ImmD, which prohibits her from taking employment, and further investigation revealed that she was a non-refoulement claimant. An employer suspected of employing the illegal worker was also arrested and the investigation is ongoing.
 
The three arrested illegal workers were charged at Shatin Magistrates' Courts on July 29 and July 30 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' imprisonment. Two of them were also charged with using a forged identity card and were sentenced to 15 months and 16 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 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.