6 January 2015
A territory-wide enforcement operation codenamed "Twilight" and joint operations codenamed "Windsand" were mounted by the Immigration Department and the Hong Kong Police Force on January 4 and 5 to combat illegal employment activities. A total of 26 illegal workers and one suspected employer were arrested.
During operation "Twilight" on January 5, officers of the Immigration Task Force raided six target locations, namely recycling yards, a food processing centre, residential flats and an industrial centre under renovation. Nine illegal workers comprising eight men and one woman aged 24 to 65 were arrested. One man aged 56 was suspected of employing the illegal workers.
During the operations "Windsand" on January 4 and 5, two men and 15 women aged 21 to 59 were arrested for breaching their conditions of stay by being involved in suspected parallel goods trading at Choi Fai Street and Ka Fu Close in Sheung Shui and Castle Peak Road - San Tin in Lok Ma Chau. The goods included milk powder, daily necessities, food, red wine, mobile phones and other electronic products.
Since September 2012, a number of "Windsand" operations have been conducted, during which a total of 1 752 Mainlanders and 14 Hong Kong residents were arrested for suspected involvement in parallel goods trading. Of these, 212 Mainlanders were prosecuted for breach of conditions of stay and three are under investigation, while the remaining 1 537 people were repatriated. Among those prosecuted, 202 out of 212 were sentenced to imprisonment for four weeks to three months and charges were withdrawn for another 10 people.
"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. Aiders and abettors are also liable to prosecution and penalties. The Immigration Department will continue to take enforcement action with related law enforcement departments against the offences concerned," an Immigration Department spokesman said.
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.