Eight persons arrested during anti-illegal worker operations

The Immigration Department (ImmD, the Hong Kong Police Force, and the Labour Department raided more than 50 target locations during a series of territory-wide anti-illegal worker operations to combat illegal employment activities at Lunar New Year fairs for four consecutive days from January 16 to January 19.

A total of six suspected illegal workers, one suspected employer and one overstayer, were arrested.

During the anti-illegal worker operations, ImmD Task Force officers raided industrial buildings, restaurants, retail shops, a warehouse and a wet market. Four suspected illegal workers and one suspected employer were arrested. The arrested suspected illegal workers comprised one man and three women, aged 32 to 43. Among them, one man was a holder of recognisance form, which prohibits him from taking any employment. Furthermore, one woman, aged 44, was suspected of employing an illegal worker and was also arrested.

Whereas, during operation “Champion”, enforcement officers raided 14 target locations in Western region, including premises under renovation and restaurants. Two suspected illegal workers and one overstayer were arrested. The arrested suspected illegal workers comprised two women, aged 26 and 35. Furthermore, one male overstayer, aged 41, was also arrested.

Furthermore, during the anti-illegal worker operations at Lunar New Year fairs, enforcement officers raided target stalls at 10 Lunar New Year fairs. Apart from mounting enforcement operations, ImmD officers and a promotional vehicle have been deployed to distribute “Don’t Employ Illegal Workers” leaflets and convey the message to stall owners.

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 existing mechanism, the ImmD will, as a standard procedure, conduct 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.