Three Vietnamese illegal workers jailed

15 August 2016

Three Vietnamese illegal workers were jailed at Sha Tin Magistrates' Courts on August 12 and 13.
 
In anti-illegal employment operations mounted on August 10 and 11, officers of the Immigration Department (ImmD) raided three restaurants in To Kwa Wan, Jordan and Tsuen Wan. Three female illegal workers aged from 31 to 50 were arrested. All of them are Vietnamese. When intercepted, they were washing dishes in the restaurants. Upon identity checking, two of them were found to be non-refoulement claimants and holders of recognisance forms issued by the ImmD, which prohibit them from taking up employment, while the other one is an illegal immigrant. In addition, investigators seized copies of forged Hong Kong identity cards of two arrestees at the scene. A forged Hong Kong identity card was also unearthed from the personal belongings of one of the illegal workers. Three employers suspected of employing the illegal workers were also arrested.
 
During the investigation, all the arrestees admitted to taking employment illegally to earn money. They also admitted to using forged Hong Kong identity cards to seek job in the relevant restaurants.
 
The three arrestees were charged by the Sha Tin Magistrates' Courts on August 12 and 13 due to taking 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 breaching her condition of stay by taking unapproved employment. They pleaded guilty to the charges and were sentenced to 15 months' and two months' imprisonment. They also pleaded guilty to the use or possession of a forged Hong Kong identity card and were sentenced to 12 months' to 15 months' imprisonment. All charges are to run concurrently and they were each sentenced to a total of 15 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. Moreover, any person who contravenes a condition of stay in force in respect of him shall be guilty of an offence. Also, visitors are not allowed to take employment in Hong Kong, whether paid or unpaid, without the permission of the Director of Immigration. Offenders are liable to prosecution and upon conviction face a maximum fine of $50,000 and up to two years' imprisonment.
 
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.