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Hong Kong Immigration Department Arrested 9 Persons During Anti-Illegal Workers Operations

anti-illegal worker operations codenamed Contribute and Twilight

In a rigorous three-day campaign to combat illegal employment, the Hong Kong Immigration Department (ImmD) executed a series of territory-wide operations codenamed “Contribute” and “Twilight,” along with joint efforts with the Hong Kong Police Force, dubbed “Champion” and “Windsand.” The operations, spanning from June 11 to June 13, culminated in the arrest of five suspected illegal workers and four suspected employers.

ImmD Task Force officers targeted 101 locations, including premises under renovation, residential buildings, and restaurants. These efforts resulted in the apprehension of four suspected illegal workers—three men and one woman, aged between 38 and 54. The arrested woman was also found in possession of a forged Hong Kong identity card. Additionally, four individuals, consisting of three men and one woman aged 44 to 61, were detained on suspicion of employing the illegal workers.

Operation “Champion,” which focused on the Central district, led to the arrest of one suspected illegal female worker, aged 59, who also possessed a forged Hong Kong identity card.

An ImmD spokesperson emphasized the legal ramifications for violating stay conditions, noting that visitors are prohibited from taking any form of employment in Hong Kong without proper authorization. Offenders face severe penalties, including fines up to $50,000 and imprisonment for up to two years. Those aiding and abetting such activities are also subject to prosecution.

The spokesperson highlighted the stringent provisions under section 38AA of the Immigration Ordinance, which prohibits illegal immigrants, individuals under removal or deportation orders, overstayers, and those denied permission to land from engaging in employment or business activities. Convictions can result in fines up to $50,000 and imprisonment for up to three years. Moreover, the use or possession of a forged or another person’s Hong Kong identity card carries penalties of up to $100,000 in fines and 10 years’ imprisonment.

Employers found hiring individuals not lawfully employable face enhanced penalties, with fines now reaching $500,000 and imprisonment for up to 10 years. Corporate officers, including directors and managers, may also bear criminal liability. The High Court mandates immediate custodial sentences for employers of illegal workers.

Employers are legally required to verify the lawful employability of potential employees, including inspecting identity cards and making necessary inquiries. Failure to do so is not a valid defense in legal proceedings. Employers who neglect to check a job seeker’s valid travel document face fines up to $150,000 and one year of imprisonment.

The ImmD also reiterated its commitment to identifying and supporting victims of trafficking in persons (TIP). During operations, initial screenings are conducted for vulnerable individuals, and full debriefings are carried out if TIP indicators are found. Identified victims receive various forms of assistance, including medical services, counseling, and shelter.