30 September 2016
The Immigration Department (ImmD) mounted a series of territory-wide enforcement operations, including operations codenamed "Twilight" and joint operations with the Hong Kong Police Force codenamed "Windsand", on September 28 and 29 to combat illegal employment activities. A total of 16 illegal workers and three suspected employers were arrested.
During operations "Twilight", Immigration Task Force officers raided several target locations including restaurants, a commercial building and a teaching centre. Three female illegal workers aged 41 to 45 were arrested. Among them, two women were suspected of using and being in possession of a forged Hong Kong identity card while one of them was also a holder of a recognisance form, which prohibits her from taking any employment. Meanwhile, two men and one woman aged 50 to 65 were suspected of employing the illegal workers.
During operations "Windsand", 13 Mainland visitors comprising six men and seven women aged 18 to 54 were arrested for breaching their conditions of stay by being involved in suspected parallel goods trading at Sheung Shui Plaza, Cambridge Plaza, San Wan Road, Po Wan Road and Ka Fu Close in Sheung Shui. The goods included milk powder, red wine, food, skin-care products, daily necessities, electronic components and electronic products.
Since September 2012, a number of "Windsand" operations have been conducted, during which a total of 3,051 Mainlanders and 17 Hong Kong residents were arrested for suspected involvement in parallel goods trading. Of these, 232 Mainlanders were prosecuted for breach of conditions of stay and one is under investigation, while the remaining 2,818 people were repatriated. Among those prosecuted, 221 were sentenced to imprisonment for between four weeks and three months and one is pending court hearing, while charges were withdrawn for the other 10 people.
"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 up 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 reiterated that it is a serious offence to employ people who are not lawfully employable. The maximum penalty is imprisonment for three years and a fine of $350,000. The High Court has laid down sentencing guidelines that the employer of an illegal worker should be given an immediate custodial sentence. According to the court sentencing, employers must take all practicable steps to determine whether a person is lawfully employable prior to employment. Apart from inspecting a prospective employee's identity card, the employer has the explicit duty to make enquiries regarding the person and ensure that the answers would not cast any reasonable doubt concerning the lawful employability of the person. Otherwise, the court will not accept failure to do so as a defence in proceedings. It is also an offence if an employer fails to inspect the job seeker's valid travel document if the job seeker does not have a Hong Kong permanent identity card. The maximum penalty for failing to inspect such a document is imprisonment for one year and a fine of $150,000.