19 August 2016
An Indonesian illegal worker holding an immigration recognisance form was sentenced to jail for illegal employment at Shatin Magistrates' Courts on August 18.
In August this year, Immigration Department (ImmD) investigators received a referral from the Hong Kong Police Force to further investigate an illegal employment case. Enforcement officers found an Indonesian male worker, aged 38, washing a private vehicle inside a car washing shop in Yuen Long. Upon checking his identity, he was found to be a holder of a recognisance form issued by ImmD, which prohibits him from taking employment, and further investigation revealed that he was a non-refoulement claimant. Investigation of the suspected employer is ongoing.
The Indonesian illegal worker was charged at Shatin Magistrates' Court 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. He pleaded guilty to the charge and was sentenced to 15 months' imprisonment. As he committed the related offence during his suspended sentence, the Court sentenced him to another four weeks' imprisonment, running consecutively, making a total imprisonment term of 15 months and 4 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.