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Two illegal workers jailed
     Two illegal workers comprising a Vietnamese and a Pakistani were jailed at Shatin Magistrates' Courts yesterday (December 7).
     During an anti-illegal worker operation conducted on September 13, Immigration Department (ImmD) investigators raided a restaurant in Wanchai. A female Vietnamese illegal worker, aged 27, was arrested. When intercepted, she was washing dishes at the restaurant. Upon identity checking, she was found to be an illegal immigrant who was also suspected of being in possession of a forged Hong Kong identity card and assaulting, resisting or obstructing member of the Immigration Service acting in the execution of his duty. An employer suspected of employing the illegal worker was also arrested and the investigation is ongoing.  
     In addition, ImmD investigators received a referral from the Hong Kong Police Force to further investigate an illegal employment case in October. Enforcement officers arrested a male Pakistani worker, aged 25, selling handbags in Central. Upon identity checking, he produced for inspection a recognisance form issued by the ImmD, which prohibits him from taking employment. Further investigation revealed that he was a non-refoulement claimant.
     The two arrestees were charged at Shatin Magistrates' Courts yesterday with taking up employment or establishing business after landing in Hong Kong unlawfully and remaining in Hong Kong without the authority of the Director of Immigration, or while being a person in respect of whom a removal order or deportation order was in force. The Vietnamese illegal worker was also charged with possessing a forged Hong Kong identity card and assaulting, resisting or obstructing member of the Immigration Service acting in the execution of his duty. They were sentenced to imprisonment for 15 months and one week, and 22 months and two weeks respectively.
     The ImmD spokesman warned that, as stipulated in section 38AA of the Immigration Ordinance, illegal immigrants or people who are the subject of a removal order or a deportation order are prohibited from taking any employment, whether paid or unpaid, or establishing or joining in any business. Offenders are liable upon conviction 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 Hong Kong identity card. Offenders are liable to prosecution and a maximum penalty of a $100,000 fine and up to 10 years' imprisonment. Moreover, any person who assaults, resists or obstructs any member of the Service acting in the execution of his duty shall be guilty of an offence and shall be liable on summary conviction to a fine of $2,000 and to imprisonment for six months.
     The spokesman reiterated that it is a serious offence to employ people who are not lawfully employable. The maximum penalty is imprisonment for three years and a fine of $350,000. The High Court has laid down sentencing guidelines that the employer of an illegal worker should be given an immediate custodial sentence. According to the court sentencing, employers must take all practicable steps to determine whether a person is lawfully employable prior to employment. Apart from inspecting a prospective employee's identity card, the employer has the explicit duty to make enquiries regarding the person and ensure that the answers would not cast any reasonable doubt concerning the lawful employability of the person. The court will not accept failure to do so as a defence in proceedings. It is also an offence if an employer fails to inspect the job seeker's valid travel document if the job seeker does not have a Hong Kong permanent identity card. The maximum penalty for failing to inspect such a document is imprisonment for one year and a fine of $150,000.
Ends/Thursday, December 8, 2016
Issued at HKT 18:40
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