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Twenty-five immigration offenders arrested

     The Immigration Department yesterday (March 20) arrested 20 illegal workers and five people suspected of employing them during a series of anti-illegal worker operations codenamed "Champion" and "Powerplayer".

     Operations "Champion" and "Powerplayer", which were jointly mounted by the Immigration Department, the Police Force and the Labour Department, began at 9am and ended at 10.30pm yesterday. During operation "Champion", enforcement officers raided 27 target locations in the Hong Kong West, Sha Tin, Kwai Chung and Tsuen Wan districts including a construction site, temporary food stalls, recycling stores, factory buildings and units under renovation, and six illegal workers and one employer were arrested. The illegal workers comprised four men and two women aged between 29 and 44. One man, aged 35, was suspected to have employed the illegal workers. During operation "Powerplayer", enforcement officers raided 86 target locations in the Kowloon West region, including restaurants, food stalls, workshops, bakery shops, recycling stores and residential units, and 14 illegal workers and four employers were arrested. The illegal workers comprised eight men and six women aged between 19 and 56. Among them, one was a holder of a recognisance form, which prohibits employment. Four men, whose ages ranged from 26 to 66, were arrested on suspicion of employing the illegal workers.

     All the illegal workers were detained for questioning.

     An Immigration Department spokesman said, "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. Regarding illegal immigrants or people who are the subject of a removal order or a deportation order, it is an offence for them 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 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/Thursday, March 21, 2013
Issued at HKT 18:21


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