34 persons arrested during anti-illegal worker operations (with photos)
During the anti-illegal worker operation, ImmD Task Force officers raided 60 target locations including a massage parlous, restaurants and retail shops. Three suspected illegal workers and three suspected employers were arrested. The arrested suspected illegal workers comprised a man and two women, aged 21 to 49. One man was suspected of using and being in possession of a forged Hong Kong identity card. Three women, aged 44, were suspected of employing the illegal workers and were also arrested.
During operation "Powerplayer", enforcement officers raided 196 target locations in the Central district, Eastern district, Wan Chai district and Western district. Fifteen suspected illegal workers, four suspected employers, six overstayers and one person who breached his condition of stay in Hong Kong were arrested. The arrested suspected illegal workers comprised a man and 14 women, aged 26 to 49. Among them, five women were holders of recognisance forms, which prohibit them from taking any employment. Two women were suspected of using and being in possession of a Hong Kong identity card related to another person. Two men and two women, aged 35 to 71, were suspected of employing the illegal workers and were arrested. Two male and four female overstayers, aged 25 to 49, were arrested. Furthermore, one male Mainland fisherman deckhand, aged 29, who breached his condition of stay in Hong Kong, was also arrested. Among them, 13 suspected illegal workers, four suspected employers, five overstayers and one person who breached his condition of stay in Hong Kong were handled by the ImmD.
In addition, during operation "Windsand", two Mainland visitors comprising two women, aged 36 and 41, were arrested for breaching their conditions of stay by being involved in suspected parallel goods trading at San Wan Road in Sheung Shui district. The goods included milk powder and healthcare products.
An ImmD spokesman said, "Any person who contravenes a condition of stay in force in respect of him or her shall be guilty of an offence. Also, 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. Aiders and abettors are also liable to prosecution and penalties."
The spokesman warned, "As stipulated in section 38AA of the Immigration Ordinance, an illegal immigrant, a person who is the subject of a removal order or a deportation order, an overstayer or a person who was refused permission to land is 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. Under the prevailing laws, it is an offence to use or possess a forged Hong Kong identity card. Offenders are liable to prosecution and upon conviction face a maximum fine of $100,000 and up to 10 years' imprisonment."
The spokesman reiterated that it is a serious offence to employ people who are not lawfully employable. Under the Immigration Ordinance, the maximum penalty for an employer employing a person who is not lawfully employable, i.e. an illegal immigrant, a person who is the subject of a removal order or a deportation order, an overstayer or a person who was refused permission to land, has been significantly increased from a fine of $350,000 and three years' imprisonment to a fine of $500,000 and 10 years' imprisonment to reflect the gravity of such offences. The director, manager, secretary, partner, etc, of the company concerned may also bear criminal liability. 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. Offenders are liable upon conviction to a maximum fine of $150,000 and to imprisonment for one year. In that connection, the spokesman would like to remind all employers not to defy the law by employing illegal workers. The ImmD will continue to take resolute enforcement action to combat such offences.
Under the existing mechanism, the ImmD will, as a standard procedure, conduct an initial screening of vulnerable persons, including illegal workers, illegal immigrants, sex workers and foreign domestic helpers, who are arrested during any operation with a view to ascertaining whether they are trafficking in persons (TIP) victims. When any TIP indicator is revealed in the initial screening, the ImmD officers will conduct a full debriefing and identification by using a standardised checklist to ascertain the presence of TIP elements, such as threats and coercion in the recruitment phase and the nature of exploitation. Identified TIP victims will be provided with various forms of support and assistance, including urgent intervention, medical services, counselling, shelter or temporary accommodation and other supporting services. The ImmD calls on TIP victims to report crimes to the relevant departments immediately.
Ends/Friday, September 22, 2023
Issued at HKT 18:25
Issued at HKT 18:25