A joint enforcement operation s mounted by the Immigration Department, the Police Force and the Labour Department resulted in 38 arrests in the New Territories North.
Codenamed "Powerplayer" the operation was organized to combat illegal employment activities.
During the August 8 operation in Sheung Shui, Tuen Mun, Yuen Long, Pat Heung, Ta Kwu Ling, Fanling and Tin Shui Wai, enforcement officers raided 31 target workplaces comprising a village house construction site, used electrical appliances recycling plants, auto spare parts recycling plants and electronic spare parts recycling depots, resulting in
the arrest of 36 illegal workers. The illegal workers included 33 men and three women aged 23 to 55. Among them, 17 were holders of recognisance forms, which prohibit employment. One man and one woman, aged 39 and 63 respectively, were suspected of employing the illegal workers.
An Immigration Department spokesman revealed that, among the 36 illegal workers, 24 were arrested in three target workplaces.
Those workplaces were two used electrical appliances recycling depots located in Lung Kwu Tan in Tuen Mun and in Yuen Long, and a village house under construction at a hillside in Tuen Mun. These 24 illegal workers comprised 17 visitors and seven illegal immigrants while four visitors and six illegal immigrants are recognisance form holders. They were suspected of breaching conditions of stay and taking employment after illegally entering Hong Kong.
"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," the 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 also 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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