Thu, Mar 13, 2008 - Page 2 News List

Human trafficking still a problem in Taiwan: US

WOMEN'S RIGHTS The State Department's `Country Reports on Human Rights Practices 2007' said that rape and domestic violence also remained serious concerns

STAFF WRITER , WITH CNA, WASHINGTON

The US Department of State has ranked Taiwan's human rights situation last year as "commendable," with the exception of continued problems in specific areas, including official corruption and human trafficking.

"Taiwan generally respected human rights of its citizens; however, there continued to be problems reported in the following areas: corruption by officials, violence and discrimination against women, trafficking in persons and abuses of foreign workers," the department said in its annual rights report, 2007 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices.

There were also allegations of official corruption during the year even as authorities continued to take action to fight corruption, the report said. Allegations of vote buying persisted, but all political parties were publicly committed to ending the practice.

As of last June, prosecutors had indicted 970 individuals on corruption charges and had convicted 477 people, it said. The accused included 70 high-ranking government officials, 152 mid-level, 201 low-level and 23 elected officials, it said.

In terms of women's rights, the report said violence against women, including rape and domestic violence, remained a serious problem, with the Ministry of the Interior estimating the total number of sexual assaults being 10 times the number reported to the police.

As of last October, a total of 60,326 cases of domestic violence had been reported, marking a 2 percent increase over the previous year, the report said.

On human trafficking, Taiwan was primarily a destination for Southeast Asian and Chinese nationals trafficked into forced labor or sexual exploitation, the report said. There were numerous reports of women -- mainly from Indonesia, Vietnam, the Philippines and Thailand -- being forced or coerced into the commercial sex trade after receiving fraudulent offers of employment or marriage from dishonest labor or marriage brokers, the report said.

There were also reports of women being trafficked from Taiwan for sexual exploitation purposes to Canada, Japan, the UK, the US and other countries, the report said.

Last year, 423 persons were indicted for trafficking related offenses, an increase of 62 percent over the previous year, with some 350 cases still pending at year's end, the report said.

On abuse of foreign workers, brokers and employers regularly impose high brokerage fees and other charges on foreign workers, frequently using the debt as a tool for involuntary servitude, the report said.

The report also said that civilian authorities generally maintained effective control of security forces last year.

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