5 August 2016
Three Vietnamese illegal workers holding Immigration recognisance forms were jailed at Shatin Magistrates' Courts on August 4.
The Immigration Department (ImmD) mounted joint operations with the Hong Kong Police Force codenamed "Silvershield" and "Powerbow" on August 1. During the operations, investigators raided a number of target locations in Hong Kong and Kowloon including a restaurant in Mong Kok and a cleaning company in Tin Shui Wai. One male and two female Vietnamese workers aged from 27 to 56 were found dishwashing and performing cleaning work respectively. Upon identity checking, all of them were discovered to be non-refoulement claimants, and produced for inspection recognisance forms issued by the ImmD, which prohibit them from taking employment. Furthermore, they were also suspected of using and being in possession of suspected forged Hong Kong identity cards. Two employers suspected of employing the three illegal workers were also arrested and the investigation is ongoing.
The three arrested illegal workers were each charged at Shatin Magistrates' Courts on August 4 with using of forged Hong Kong identity cards. They pleaded guilty to the charges and were sentenced to 15 months' imprisonment. They also pleaded guilty to 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, and were sentenced to imprisonment ranging from 15 to 16 months. All sentences 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.