Two Vietnamese illegal workers jailed

2 September 2016

Two Vietnamese illegal workers holding recognisance forms were jailed at Shatin Magistrates' Courts yesterday (September 1).

During an anti-illegal worker operation mounted on August 29, Immigration Department (ImmD) investigators raided a restaurant in Sham Shui Po. A female Vietnamese illegal worker aged 34 was arrested. When intercepted, she was preparing food in the restaurant. 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. She was also suspected of using and being in possession of a suspected forged Hong Kong identity card. An employer suspected of employing the illegal worker was also arrested and the investigation is ongoing.

Furthermore, ImmD investigators received a referral from the Hong Kong Police Force to further investigate an illegal employment case in August. Enforcement officers found a male Vietnamese illegal worker, aged 24, cleaning dishes in a restaurant in Fo Tan. Upon identity checking, 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. An employer suspected of employing the illegal worker was arrested and the investigation is ongoing.

The two illegal workers were charged at Shatin Magistrates' Courts yesterday with 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. They pleaded guilty to the charges and were each sentenced to 15 months' imprisonment. One of them was also charged with using a forged identity card and was sentenced to 15 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.