HR & EDUCATION | Cesar Tordesillas, Hong Kong
Published: 07 Jul 11

26 arrested in anti-illegal worker operations

The Immigration Department arrested 21 illegal workers and five people suspected of employing them.


A joint enforcement operation codenamed "Powerplayer" was mounted by the Immigration Department, the Police and the Labour Department on July 4 in New Territories North Region to combat illegal employment activities, resulting in 17 arrests. 

The operation began at 7am and ended at 5pm. 

During the operation in the Sheung Shui, Yuen Long, Pat Heung, Ta Kwu Ling, Fanling and Tin Shui Wai districts, enforcement officers raided 12 targeted workplaces including dumped-computer recycling depots, used home appliances yards and plastic-refuse recycling plants, and checked 28 people's identity documents. Seventeen illegal workers were arrested, comprising 14 men and three women aged 20 to 42. Twelve were holders of recognisance forms, which prohibit employment. They were brought before Sha Tin Magistrates' Courts, where five of the workers were convicted of offences under the Immigration Ordinance 2009 and sentenced to imprisonment ranging from eight to 14 months.

Additionally, in a territory-wide anti-illegal worker operation codenamed "Twilight" conducted on July 6, Immigration Task Force Officers raided 15 targeted locations in various districts, including refuse collection stations, restaurants, temporary stalls, commercial and residential units under renovation. The illegal workers arrested comprised two men and two women aged 26 to 43. One of the women was suspected of using and being in possession of a forged Hong Kong identity card. Four men and one woman, whose ages ranged from 46 to 67, were suspected of employing the illegal workers. The investigation continues.

"Visitors are not allowed to take up 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 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 Court revealed that from 2006 to 2009, illegal immigrants and many overstayers lodged torture claims only after they had been arrested for taking up employment, raising suspicion over the veracity of their claims.  A deterrent sentence ensures that illegal immigration will become less attractive with the risk of a long jail term.

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