29 August 2016
Two Vietnamese illegal workers, who were illegal immigrants, were jailed at Shatin Magistrates' Courts on August 26.
In an anti-illegal worker operation mounted on August 24, officers of the Immigration Department (ImmD) raided a restaurant in Ngau Chi Wan. Two Vietnamese female illegal workers aged 41 and 45 were arrested. When intercepted, they were cleaning dishes in the restaurant. Upon identity checking, they were found to be illegal immigrants. In addition, investigators seized copies of forged Hong Kong identity cards which bore the portraits of the arrestees at the scene. During the investigation, the two arrestees admitted to taking employment illegally to earn money. They also admitted to obtaining forged Hong Kong identity cards for job seeking and presenting them in the job interview. After being arrested, they raised non-refoulement claims. Two employers suspected of employing the illegal workers were arrested and the investigation is ongoing.
The two illegal workers were charged at Shatin Magistrates' Court on August 26 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 pleaded guilty to the charges and were each sentenced to 15 months' imprisonment. They also pleaded guilty to the use or possession of a forged Hong Kong identity card and were each sentenced to 15 months' imprisonment. All sentences are to run concurrently.
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 also warned that it is an offence to use or possess a forged Hong Kong identity card. 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.