Fri, Jun 21, 2013 - Page 3 News List

Taiwan maintains top ranking in US’ annual report on human trafficking

By William Lowther  /  Staff reporter in Washington

Taiwan maintained its Tier 1 ranking in the latest human trafficking report published by the US Department of State, the fourth year in a row that the nation has been given the highest ranking

Taiwan and South Korea are the only two East Asian nations to be given a Tier 1 ranking in this year’s Trafficking in Persons Report released on Wednesday.

While Taiwan generally fared well in the report, Washington recommended a list of actions for Taipei to improve its record.

The report said that Taiwan was a destination and, to a much lesser extent, a source of and transit territory for men, women and children subjected to sex trafficking and forced labor.

Most victims in Taiwan were migrant workers from Vietnam, Thailand and Indonesia employed through recruitment agencies and brokers to perform low-skilled work, the report says.

“Some women and girls from mainland China and southeast Asian countries are lured to Taiwan through fraudulent marriages and deceptive employment offers for purposes of sex trafficking and forced labor,” the report says.

It says that Taiwanese authorities fully comply with the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking and display “robust and transparent prosecution of trafficking offenses.”

The report said that Taiwan continued strong victim protection efforts, trained law enforcement and other officials and raised public awareness of trafficking offenses.

However, the State Department recommended that Taiwan investigate and prosecute the owners of Taiwanese-owned or flagged fishing vessels who allegedly commit abuse and labor trafficking during long-haul fishing trips.

It also said that Taipei should increase efforts to reduce exploitation of migrant workers by brokerage agencies and employers and sustain and improve efforts to investigate, prosecute and convict trafficking offenders using the anti-trafficking law.

The report also urged Taipei to ensure that convicted trafficking offenders receive sufficiently stringent sentences and to increase efforts to investigate and prosecute child sex tourism offenses committed by Taiwanese.

In Taipei, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the National Immigration Agency yesterday responded to the report with statements saying that the report showed Taiwan’s efforts to combat human trafficking have been recognized by the international community.

Bruce Linghu (令狐榮達), director-general of the ministry’s Department of North American Affairs, said the ministry will continue to cooperate with other government agencies, civil groups and international human rights organizations to demonstrate both the human rights ideals upon which the nation is built and its determination to promote such rights.

To enhance protection for immigrants, foreign workers, children, and women who have become victims of human trafficking, the government will coordinate efforts with international non-governmental organizations to strengthen the legal framework for helping victims as well as the prosecution of and punishment for traffickers, Linghu said.

Taiwan has signed memorandums of understanding with Mongolia, Indonesia and the Gambia to increase cooperation in combating human trafficking, he said.

- Additional reporting by Shih Hsiu-chuan and CNA

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