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Four illegal workers jailed
     Four illegal workers comprising three Vietnamese and one Pakistani were jailed at Shatin Magistrates' Courts on April 26.

     During an anti-illegal worker operation mounted on April 24, Immigration Department (ImmD) investigators raided two restaurants in Sai Wan Ho and Sha Tin. Two male and one female Vietnamese illegal workers, aged 23 to 41, were arrested. When intercepted, they were found washing dishes. Upon identity checking, the woman produced for inspection a recognisance form issued by the ImmD, which prohibits her from taking employment. Further investigation revealed that she was a non-refoulement claimant. The two males were illegal immigrants. In addition, they were suspected of using and being in possession of suspected forged Hong Kong identity cards. Two employers suspected of employing the illegal workers were also arrested and the investigation is ongoing.

     Furthermore, during a joint operation conducted by the ImmD and the Hong Kong Police Force codenamed "Champion" on January 12, enforcement officers raided a stall in Mong Kok and arrested a male Pakistani, aged 22. When intercepted, he was found setting up the stall. 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 four illegal workers were charged at Shatin Magistrates' Courts on April 26 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. The three Vietnamese illegal workers pleaded guilty and were sentenced to 15 months' imprisonment. Moreover, the female and one of the male arrestees were charged with using or being in possession of forged Hong Kong identity cards. They were respectively sentenced to imprisonment of 12 months and 15 months. All sentences are to run concurrently. With respect to the Pakistani illegal worker, after the trial, he was sentenced to 22 months and two weeks' imprisonment.

     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/Thursday, April 27, 2017
Issued at HKT 18:40
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