The National Immigration Agency (NIA) yesterday welcomed news that Taiwan remains a Tier 2 country on the US State Department’s 2009 Trafficking in Persons report released on Tuesday.
The report recommended Taiwan extend labor protection to all categories of workers, including domestic workers and caregivers, to prevent labor trafficking.
The report stated that to a lesser extent, Taiwan is a source of women trafficked to Japan, Australia, the UK and the US for sexual exploitation and forced labor, as well as a transit area for Chinese nationals seeking to enter the US illegally.
“Most trafficking victims are workers from rural areas of Vietnam, Thailand, Indonesia and the Philippines, employed through recruitment agencies and brokers to perform low-skilled work … many of these workers fall victim to labor trafficking by unscrupulous brokers and employers,” the report said.
The report said that some women and girls from China and other Southeast Asian countries are trafficked into Taiwan through fraudulent marriages or deceptive job offices.
The women come to Taiwan under the impression they would work at a factory and instead are forced to work in brothels.
The report said that many non-governmental organizations are reporting an increase in the number of boys rescued from prostitution.
It said although Taiwanese authorities do not fully comply with the minimum standards for elimination of trafficking, “they are making significant efforts to do so,” such as passing a new anti-trafficking law in January and appropriating US$14.8 million for a plan for victim protection measures.
Last year, Taiwanese authorities banned for-profit marriage broker agencies and the Ministry of Justice reported prosecuting 481 individuals for suspected trafficking from April to December.
A total of 234 people have been convicted of trafficking-related offenses since April last year until January, the report said, but urged Taiwan to implement the new law more effectively to improve the country’s victim and witness protection programs so that trafficked individuals would not be penalized for acts committed as a direct result of being trafficked.
The report also recommended Taiwan bolster police efforts to investigate trafficking and to identify trafficking victims, and encourage victims to voluntarily assist in the prosecution of traffickers.
Taiwan has been on Tier 2 since 2007. In 2006, Taiwan was placed on the Tier 2 watch list. China has remained on the watch list since 2005.
The NIA said in an effort to combat human trafficking, the Human Trafficking Prevention Act (人口販運防制法) was implemented on June 1. The law increases the punishment for traffickers.
The country has also agreed to provide safe shelter and grant temporary work rights for victims in Taiwan for assisting in prosecuting their traffickers, the NIA said.