Twelve immigration offenders arrested

8 March 2017

The Immigration Department (ImmD) mounted a series of territory-wide enforcement operations, including joint operations with the Hong Kong Police Force and the Labour Department codenamed "Champion", on March 7 and 8 to combat illegal employment activities. A total of 10 illegal workers and two suspected employers were arrested.

During the operations, enforcement officers raided five target locations including a shopping mall, a factory building and restaurants. Ten illegal workers and two employers were arrested. The 10 illegal workers were males aged between 29 and 52. Among them, seven men were holders of recognisance forms, which prohibit them from taking any employment. They were also suspected of using and being in possession of forged Hong Kong identity cards. The remaining three men were suspected of using and being in possession of Hong Kong identity cards related to another person. Meanwhile, two men, aged 24 and 52, were suspected of employing the illegal workers.

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. 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.