10 March 2016
The Immigration Department mounted a series of territory-wide enforcement operations, including an operation codenamed "Twilight" and joint operations with other law enforcement agencies codenamed "Champion" and "Windsand", from March 7 to 9 to combat illegal employment activities. A total of 25 illegal workers and three suspected employers were arrested.
During operation "Twilight" conducted on March 7 and 9, Immigration Task Force officers raided 25 target locations including construction sites, elderly care centres, recycling depots, restaurants, a laundry workshop, a unit under renovation and a retail shop. Seventeen illegal workers comprising 14 men and three women aged 22 to 46 were arrested. Among them, seven men and one woman were holders of recognisance forms, which prohibit them from taking any employment. Seven men and one woman were suspected of using and being in possession of forged Hong Kong identity cards and one man was suspected of using and being in possession of a forged Exit-Entry Permit for Travelling to and from Hong Kong and Macau. Two men aged 40 and 58 were suspected of employing the illegal workers.
During the operation conducted on March 8, Immigration Task Force officers raided three target locations comprising restaurants and an office. Two female illegal workers aged 42 and 49 were arrested.
During operation "Champion" conducted on March 8, enforcement officers raided two target restaurants in Central district. One illegal worker and one employer were arrested. The illegal worker was a female aged 33. She was also a holder of a recognisance form, which prohibits employment. One man aged 53 was suspected of employing the illegal worker.
During operation "Windsand" conducted on March 7 and 9, five Mainland visitors comprising one man and four women aged 20 to 60 were arrested for breaching their conditions of stay by being involved in suspected parallel goods trading at San Wan Road, Shek Wu Hui Jockey Club Playground in Sheung Shui and Castle Peak Road - San Tin in Lok Ma Chau. The goods included milk powder, food and electronic products.
Since September 2012, a number of "Windsand" operations have been conducted, during which a total of 2729 Mainlanders and 17 Hong Kong residents were arrested for suspected involvement in parallel goods trading. Of these, 227 Mainlanders were prosecuted for breach of conditions of stay, while the remaining 2502 people were repatriated. Among those prosecuted, 217 were sentenced to imprisonment for between four weeks and three months, 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 Immigration Department spokesman said.
The spokesman warned that it is an offence for illegal immigrants or people who are the subject of a removal order or a deportation order to take any employment or to establish or join in any business. Offenders are liable 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.