5 September 2016
Two non-ethnic Chinese illegal workers comprising one Nepalese and one Vietnamese holding recognisance forms were jailed at Shatin Magistrates' Courts on September 2 and 3.
The Immigration Department (ImmD) mounted joint operations with the Hong Kong Police Force codenamed "Greatplan" from June 1 to 3. During the operations, investigators raided a number of target locations in Hong Kong and Kowloon including a restaurant in Jordan. One female Nepalese worker aged 32 was found working as a dish washing worker in the restaurant. Upon identity checking, she produced for inspection a recognisance form issued by the ImmD, which prohibits her from taking employment, and further investigation revealed that she was a non-refoulement claimant. An employer suspected of employing the illegal worker was also arrested and the investigation is ongoing.
In addition, during an anti-illegal worker operation mounted on September 1, ImmD investigators raided a restaurant in Yau Tong. One female Vietnamese aged 59 was arrested. When intercepted, she was preparing food in the restaurant. Upon identity checking, she produced for inspection a recognisance form issued by ImmD, which prohibits her from taking employment, and further investigation revealed that she was a non-refoulement claimant. An employer suspected of employing the illegal worker was also arrested and the investigation is ongoing.
The two illegal workers were charged at Shatin Magistrates' Courts on September 2 and 3 respectively 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. After the trial, the former was sentenced to imprisonment of 22 months and two weeks, and the latter was sentenced to imprisonment of 15 months.
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 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.