Thu, Mar 18, 2010 - Page 1 News List

MOFA looking into alleged incident at Vancouver airport

By Shih Hsiu-chuan  /  STAFF REPORTER

The government is considering lodging a protest with Canada about the alleged maltreatment a Taiwanese woman received from Canadian immigration officials, Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) Spokesman Henry Chen (陳銘政) said yesterday.

Lee Chun-hua (李春華), 50, alleges she was forced to leave Canada on March 10 after being detained at Vancouver Airport for about six hours.

Lee wrote to MOFA Minister Timothy Yang (楊進添) on Sunday describing how she was allegedly maltreated by Canadian immigration officers and said she was forced to sign a document declaring that she wanted to leave the country or else face two to three days of detention pending further proceedings.

She said in the letter that immigration officers told her that her visa had expired, asked why she did not have a return ticket, why she had more than 10 pairs of underwear in her luggage and how she was able to afford the ticket. They confiscated her cellphone and notebook and refused to let her call her sister who was waiting for her in the airport lobby.

Displaying her mother’s visa, which does not expire until Sept. 7 and return ticket dated March 25 to TV reporters, Lee’s daughter asked the ministry to help her mother demand justice from the Canadian government for the maltreatment she suffered.

Chen said the ministry had asked the country’s representative offices in Ottawa and Vancouver to contact Canadian authorities to express the Taiwanese government’s “severe concern” over the matter and demand a clear explanation.

The representative offices have told the Canadian authorities that the incident had damaged the country’s image and hoped authorities would look into the matter.

If the allegations prove to be true, the ministry will protest to the Canadian government and demand an apology, Chen said.

The Canadian Trade Office in Taipei (CTOT), the official Canadian authority in Taiwan, said that Canada’s Privacy Act prohibits sharing an individual’s personal information with third parties.

“Canada welcomes millions of visitors from around the globe each year. Over 275,000 Temporary Resident Visas (TRVs) were issued to Taiwanese from 2005 through 2009. In the overwhelming majority of cases, the entry process is very smooth, “ the CTOT said.

MOFA urged Taiwanese nationals to call the toll-free international phone number 800-0885-0885 in case of emergency while traveling abroad.

ADDITIONAL REPORTING BY CNA

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