Domestic worker jailed for working illegally in Central

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Sha Tin Magistrates' Courts


A judge in Shatin sentenced a 42-year-old Filipino domestic worker to a month and a half in prison after she was caught working illegally during her holiday.

The magistrate on January 15 found Adelaida A.M. guilty of one count of breach of condition of stay after she was caught selling cloth on a metal trolley for a South Asian man in Hong Kong’s Central business district. As a domestic worker, it was illegal for Adelaida to take on another job during her stay here in HK.

“I have carefully considered the evidence of the prosecution and I find the defendant guilty as charged and I convict her,” the judge said.

The prosecution said Adelaida was arrested in Central at around 5:18 p.m. on April 5 last year, which was a holiday as Hong Kong marked the Ching Ming Festival.

A member of one of the government’s anti-hawker teams saw Adelaida beside a metal cart that was “loaded with pieces of cloth.” The Filipina was seen selling cloth to a woman for $20.

The South Asian man who owned the cart later testified in court that Adelaida was only helping him and he did not employ her.

But the judge noted that the Filipina received money from customers and then gave it to the cart owner.

“If unconnected with the business, she would not have undertaken the task of receiving the money,” the judge said.

“Giving the money to (the cart owner) showed the fiduciary relationship of an employer and an employee,” he added.

Adelaida’s lawyer, a former judge, asked for leniency, noting that she had two children—a son aged 19 and daughter aged 23—back in the Philippines. Her daughter just graduated from college with a degree in civil engineering.

The judge agreed that Adelaida’s offense was at the “lower end of the scale” and sentenced her to six weeks in prison instead of the maximum penalty of two months in jail.

From January 21 to 23, the Immigration Department (ImmD) mounted another territory-wide anti-illegal worker operation and arrested nine illegal workers and five employers.

During the operation codenamed “Twilight,” Immigration officers raided 33 target locations including car parks, companies, construction sites, a farm, shops, an industrial building, a market, restaurants and shopping malls.

“The illegal workers comprised five men and four women, aged 35 to 63. Among them, one man and one woman were suspected of using and being in possession of forged Hong Kong identity cards,” an ImmD statement said.

On the other hand, two men and three women, aged 36 to 65, were nabbed after they were suspected of employing the illegal workers.

“Any person who contravenes a condition of stay in force in respect of him 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,” an ImmD spokesman said.

“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,” he added.