Twenty six immigration offenders arrested

9 September 2016

The Immigration Department (ImmD) mounted a series of territory-wide enforcement operations including operations codenamed "Twilight", a joint operation with the Hong Kong Police Force and the Labour Department codenamed "Champion", and a series of joint operations with the Hong Kong Police Force codenamed "Windsand" on September 7 and 8 to combat illegal employment activities. A total of 23 illegal workers and three suspected employers were arrested.

During operation "Champion" conducted on September 7, enforcement officers raided seven target locations in Central including restaurants, a clothing store and a massage parlour. One illegal worker and one employer were arrested. The two arrested were females aged 35 and 40.

During the "Windsand" operations conducted on September 7, 10 Mainland visitors comprising four men and six women aged 16 to 62 were arrested for breaching their conditions of stay by being involved in suspected parallel goods trading in Sheung Shui and Lok Ma Chau. The goods included food, electronic products, cosmetics and milk powder.

Since September 2012, a number of "Windsand" operations have been conducted, during which a total of 3 015 Mainlanders and 17 Hong Kong residents were arrested for suspected involvement in parallel goods trading. Of these, 231 Mainlanders were prosecuted for breach of conditions of stay and one is under investigation, while the remaining 2 783 people were repatriated. Among those prosecuted, 221 were sentenced to imprisonment for between four weeks and three months, while charges were withdrawn for the other 10 people.

During an anti-illegal employment operation conducted on September 7, investigators raided a restaurant in Causeway Bay. Ten illegal workers comprising nine men and one woman, aged 25 to 42, were arrested. Among them, four men and one woman were holders of a recognisance form, which prohibits them from taking any employment. One woman aged 46 was suspected of employing the illegal workers.

During the "Twilight" operations conducted on September 8, Immigration Task Force officers raided four target locations including a restaurant, a laundry factory, an office and a construction site. Two illegal workers and one employer were arrested. The two illegal workers comprised one man and one woman aged 51 and 37. Among them, one man was suspected of using and being in possession of a forged Hong Kong identity card. Meanwhile, one woman aged 58 was suspected of employing the illegal workers.

"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," an ImmD spokesman said.

The 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 or a Hong Kong identity card related to another person. 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.