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Seventeen immigration offenders arrested

     A territory-wide enforcement operation codenamed "Twilight" and a joint operation codenamed "Windsand" were mounted by the Immigration Department and the Hong Kong Police Force yesterday (September 3) to combat illegal employment activities. A total of 14 illegal workers and three suspected employers were arrested.

     During operation "Twilight", officers of the Immigration Task Force raided eight target locations including restaurants, garbage collection points, an office, retail shops and a house under renovation and arrested nine illegal workers and three suspected employers. The nine illegal workers comprised three men and six women aged 24 to 62. Among them, three women were holders of recognisance forms which prohibit employment, and one of these three women was suspected of using and being in possession of a forged Hong Kong identity card. Two men and one woman aged 44 to 65 were suspected of employing the illegal workers.

     During operation "Windsand", five Mainland female visitors aged 39 to 51 were arrested for breaching their conditions of stay by being involved in suspected parallel goods trading in Kin Kwan Street in Tuen Mun and outside Tin Shui Wai MTR Station. The goods involved milk powder, food, skin care products, cosmetics and daily necessities during the operation.

     Since September 2012, a number of "Windsand" operations have been conducted, during which a total of 1 377 Mainlanders and 14 Hong Kong residents were arrested for suspected involvement in parallel goods trading. Of these, 201 Mainlanders were prosecuted for breach of conditions of stay, while the remaining 1 176 people were repatriated. Among those prosecuted, 192 out of 201 were sentenced to imprisonment for four weeks to three months and charges were withdrawn for another nine people.

     "Visitors are not allowed to take 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 also 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 is 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 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/Thursday, September 4, 2014
Issued at HKT 14:07


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