Four illegal workers jailed

28 April 2017

Four illegal workers comprising one Vietnamese, one Pakistani and two Indians were jailed at Shatin Magistrates' Courts today (April 28).

In an anti-illegal employment operation jointly mounted by Immigration Department (ImmD) and Labour Department on March 29, enforcement officers raided a restaurant in North Point and arrested a Vietnamese male, aged 40. When intercepted, he was found working as a waiter. Further investigation revealed that he was an illegal immigrant. An employer suspected of employing the illegal worker was also arrested and the investigation is ongoing.

Furthermore, during a joint operation conducted by the ImmD, the Hong Kong Police Force and the Labour Department codenamed "Champion" on March 28, enforcement officers raided two stalls in Mong Kok, and arrested a male Indian aged 35 and a male Pakistani aged 36. When intercepted, they were found sorting iron bars and setting up the stall respectively. Upon identity checking, they produced for inspection recognisance forms issued by the ImmD, which prohibit them from taking employment. Further investigation revealed that they were non-refoulement claimants.

The ImmD investigators also received a referral from the Hong Kong Police Force to further investigate an illegal employment case in March. Enforcement officers arrested a male Indian worker, aged 32, conveying goods in Fanling. Upon identity checking, he produced for inspection a recognisance form issued by the ImmD, which prohibits him from taking employment. Further investigation revealed that he was a non-refoulement claimant. An employer suspected of employing the illegal worker was also arrested and the case was adjourned.

The four illegal workers were charged at Shatin Magistrates' Courts today 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 were each sentenced to imprisonment for 15 months.

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 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.