16 March 2016
The Immigration Department mounted a series of territory-wide enforcement operations, including operations codenamed "Twilight" and "Swordfish" and a joint operation with the Hong Kong Police Force and the Labour Department codenamed "Champion", on March 14 and 15 to combat illegal employment activities. A total of 25 illegal workers and eight suspected employers were arrested.
During operation "Twilight" conducted on March 14, officers of the Immigration Investigation Sub-division raided 45 target locations including restaurants, a bakery, a flower show and a warehouse and a sauna under renovation. Six male illegal workers aged 25 to 53 were arrested. Among them, one man was suspected of using and being in possession of a forged Hong Kong identity card. Two men aged 46 and 61 were suspected of employing the illegal workers.
During operation "Swordfish" conducted on March 15, officers of the Immigration Investigation Sub-division raided 16 target locations including restaurants, hawker pitches, an office, a pharmacy, an elderly home, a hostel, a beauty salon and an employment agency. Eight illegal workers comprising one man and seven women aged 32 to 52 were arrested. Among them, one man and two women were holders of recognisance forms, which prohibit them from taking any employment. One woman was also suspected of using and being in possession of a forged Hong Kong identity card. Two men and four women aged 32 to 60 were suspected of employing the illegal workers.
During operation "Champion" conducted on March 15, enforcement officers raided 11 target locations including stalls, a massage centre, restaurants and a retail shop in Mong Kok district. Ten illegal workers comprising five men and five women aged 24 to 56 were arrested. Among them, four men and one woman were holders of recognisance forms, which prohibit them from taking any employment, and one woman was also suspected of using and being in possession of a forged Hong Kong identity card. In addition, one man was suspected of using and being in possession of a forged Hong Kong identity card.
Furthermore, during an operation conducted on March 15, officers of the Immigration Investigation Sub-division raided a car service centre. One male illegal worker aged 50 was arrested.
"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.