Although the government generally respects human rights, problems with corrupt officials, human trafficking, abuse of foreign workers, and violence and discrimination against women persist in Taiwan, according to an annual human- rights report by the US State Department that was released on Wednesday.
There were no reports of the government committing arbitrary or unlawful killings, or politically motivated disappearances in Taiwan, the report said.
However, some legal experts said abuses occurred in local police stations, where interrogations were not recorded and when attorneys were not present, the reports said.
Prison conditions generally met international standards and the government also permitted visits by independent human rights observers, the report said.
But prisons and detention centers remained overcrowded, with prisons operating at 114 percent of capacity as of last September, the report said.
The government generally respects freedom of speech and of the press, it said. There are no restrictions on the Internet, while approximately 100 cable TV channels operate in Taiwan, some of which carried programming openly critical of the various political parties, the report said. It added that the neutral National Communications Commission was to replace the Government Information Office early this year to oversee operations of the broadcast media.
However, the report said the media occasionally trample on individuals' rights to privacy, often taping and airing police interrogations and entering hospital rooms.
Freedom of religion and freedom of movement, foreign travel, emigration and repatriation are generally respected, it said.
On political rights, the report said that while allegations of vote buying continue, all political parties have committed to ending the practice.
Violence against women, including domestic violence and rape, remained a serious problem, it said. Through last November, 1,589 cases were prosecuted and 1,312 people convicted for domestic violence, it said.
Prostitution, including child prostitution, was a problem and child abuse continues to be widespread, with nearly 5,800 cases of reported in 2004, up almost 8 percent over 2003.
Taiwan continues to face human trafficking, and is a destination for women and girls -- mainly from China -- smuggled into the country mainly for the purpose of sexual exploitation and forced labor. Trafficking victims from Southeast Asia also were forced or coerced into the sex trade through fraudulent offers of employment or marriage, the report said.
The brokerage system for hiring foreign workers is the source of many problems faced by workers. As brokers commonly extract fees in the form of loans or as salary deductions, most workers expect to save almost nothing in their first one to two years in Taiwan, the report said.
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