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21 immigration offenders arrested

     The Immigration Department yesterday (March 5) arrested 19 illegal workers and two people suspected of employing them during a territory-wide anti-illegal worker operation codenamed "Twilight".

     Operation Twilight began at 5.30am and ended at 9pm yesterday. Immigration Task Force officers raided 10 target locations in various districts including restaurants, premises under renovation or decoration, and market stalls and temporary stalls underneath the Canal Road West flyover. During the operation 19 illegal workers and two employers were arrested. The illegal workers comprised four men and 15 women aged from 25 to 62. Among them, two were holders of recognisance forms, which prohibit employment. One man and one woman, aged 38 and 39 respectively, were suspected of employing the illegal workers.

     "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 Court revealed that from 2006 to 2009, illegal immigrants and many overstayers lodged torture claims only after they had been arrested for taking up employment, raising suspicion over the veracity of their claims.  A deterrent sentence, such as a lengthy jail term, ensures that illegal immigration will be less attractive.

     The spokesman also 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.

Ends/Tuesday, March 6, 2012
Issued at HKT 16:16


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