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16 arrested in anti-illegal worker operations

     A joint enforcement operation codenamed "Powerplayer" was mounted by the Immigration Department, the Police Force and the Labour Department on May 22 and 23 in Kowloon West Region to combat illegal employment activities. Nine illegal workers and four people suspected of employing them were arrested.

     During the operation, enforcement officers raided 114 targeted workplaces including restaurants, temporary stalls, recycling stores, retail shops and premises under renovation or decoration. After checking 185 people's identity documents, nine illegal workers were arrested, comprising eight men and one woman aged 25 to 32. Among them, six were holders of recognisance forms, which prohibit employment. Four men, whose ages ranged from 24 to 37, were suspected of employing the illegal workers.

     Additionally, Immigration Department Task Force officers arrested two female illegal workers aged 49 and 56 at two restaurants in Tsuen Wan and Central during another anti-illegal workers operation mounted yesterday (May 23). They were also suspected of using and being in possession of forged Hong Kong identity cards. A man, aged 44, was arrested under suspicion of employing them.

     All the illegal workers were detained for questioning.

     "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 was an offence to use or possess a forged 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 was 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/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 was a serious offence to employ someone who was not legally employable, and stating that the employer of an illegal worker should be given an immediate custodial sentence.

Ends/Thursday, May 24, 2012
Issued at HKT 16:51


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