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Seventeen immigration offenders arrested

     The Immigration Department yesterday (August 7) arrested 14 illegal workers and three people suspected of employing them during a series of anti-illegal worker operations codenamed "Champion" and "Windsand" at the New Territories North district.

     During operation "Champion", which was a joint operation with the Police Force and the Labour Department, enforcement officers raided 35 target locations including recycling plants and premises under renovation and seven male illegal workers aged between 26 and 51 were arrested. Among them, one man was a holder of a recognisance form, which prohibits employment. Three men aged between 47 and 63 were suspected of employing the illegal workers.

     During operation "Windsand", which was a joint operation between the Immigration Department and the Police Force, seven female Mainland visitors aged between 19 and 54 were arrested for breaching their conditions of stay by being involved in suspected parallel goods trading at Lok Ma Chau Road. The goods involved milk powder, red wine, daily necessities and cosmetics, etc.

     Since September 2012, a number of "Windsand" operations have been conducted, during which a total of 875 Mainlanders and 10 Hong Kong residents were arrested for suspected involvement in parallel goods trading. Of these, 107 Mainlanders were prosecuted for breach of conditions of stay, while the remaining 768 people were repatriated. Among those prosecuted, 99 out of 107 were sentenced to imprisonment for four weeks to two months, and charges were withdrawn for another eight people.

     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, August 8, 2013
Issued at HKT 18:18


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