5 August 2016
The Immigration Department mounted a series of territory-wide enforcement operations including operations codenamed "Twilight" and a series of joint operations with the Hong Kong Police Force codenamed "Windsand" on August 3 and 4 to combat illegal employment activities. A total of 20 illegal workers and three suspected employers were arrested.
During operations "Twilight", Immigration Task Force officers raided 15 target locations including restaurants, shops and a restaurant under renovation. Eight illegal workers and three employers were arrested. The eight illegal workers comprised seven men and one woman aged 21 to 47. Among them, five men and one woman were holders of recognisance forms, which prohibit them from taking any employment, while six men and one woman were suspected of using and being in possession of forged Hong Kong identity cards or suspected of being in possession of and using a Hong Kong identity card related to another person. Meanwhile, two men and one woman aged 43 to 50 were suspected of employing the illegal workers.
During operations "Windsand", 12 Mainland visitors comprising nine men and three women aged 28 to 61 were arrested for breaching their conditions of stay by being involved in suspected parallel goods trading at San Wan Road and Po Wan Road in Sheung Shui as well as Castle Peak Road - San Tin in Lok Ma Chau. The goods included milk powder, wine, food, medicine, skin-care products and electronic components.
Since September 2012, a number of "Windsand" operations have been conducted, during which a total of 2 968 Mainlanders and 17 Hong Kong residents were arrested for suspected involvement in parallel goods trading. Of these, 231 Mainlanders were prosecuted for breach of conditions of stay, while the remaining 2 737 people were repatriated. Among those prosecuted, 221 were sentenced to imprisonment for between four weeks and three months, while charges were withdrawn for the other 10 people.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 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, 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 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.