Two illegal workers jailed

     Two Vietnamese illegal workers, each holding a recognisance form, were jailed at Shatin Magistrates' Courts on January 21.
     During an anti-illegal worker operation mounted on January 19, Immigration Department (ImmD) investigators raided a restaurant in Sham Shui Po. A 43-year-old Vietnamese man and a 31-year-old Vietnamese woman were arrested. When intercepted, they were found working inside the kitchen at the restaurant. Upon identity checking, they produced for inspection recognisance forms issued by the ImmD, which prohibit them from taking employment. Further investigation revealed that they were non-refoulement claimants. In addition, investigators seized a forged Hong Kong identity card of the Vietnamese woman at the scene. An employer suspected of employing the two illegal workers was also arrested and the investigation is ongoing.
     The two illegal workers were charged at Shatin Magistrates' Courts on January 21 with taking employment 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. They were sentenced to 15 months' imprisonment. The Vietnamese woman also pleaded guilty to the charge of using a forged Hong Kong identity card and was sentenced to 15 months' imprisonment. All sentences are to run concurrently.

     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.

     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/Monday, January 23, 2017
Issued at HKT 16:55