Officials address illegally held aliens

ROTTING AWAY:Some foreign nationals have been held for months or even years at detention centers without due process and in contravention of the Constitution

By Shih Hsiu-chuan  /  Staff Reporter

Fri, Sep 10, 2010 - Page 3

The Control Yuan yesterday demanded that the executive branch revise rules and regulations governing foreign nationals who are being kept in the nation’s shelters.

The Control Yuan issued the demand following an investigation into alleged human rights violations at the Taipei Shelter, where some foreigners are being held.

Control Yuan members Chou Yang-shan (周陽山), Lee Ping-nan (李炳南) and Lee Ful-dien (李復甸), who were in charge of the investigation launched in May, published their report yesterday, which found six major flaws in the shelter system.

According to Article 38 of the Immigration Act (入出國移民法), foreigners could be kept in the shelter if they meet one of the ­following conditions: They are to be deported as a penalty but have not yet completed the procedure for leaving the country; they entered the country illegally or overstayed their visits or period of residence; they are wanted by a foreign government; or need to be detained temporarily.

A major problem with the system was that detention of foreigners was carried out without court intervention, in violation of Article Eight of the Constitution, the report said.

In accordance with the Constitution, “in no case except that of flagrante delicto, which shall be separately prescribed by law, shall any person be arrested or detained other than by a judicial or police organ in accordance with the procedure prescribed by law,” the report said.

Article 38 of the Immigration Act stipulates that the detention shall not exceed 60 days. However, it allows the National ­Immigration Agency (NIA) to prolong the period when necessary until the foreigner is deported.

Taking the Taipei Shelter as an example, Control Yuan members said they found there were frequent cases at the shelter where some foreign nationals had been kept for months or even years.

The shelters were also overcrowded, the Control Yuan members said, adding that they lacked sufficient healthcare facilities and personnel and did not have quarantine measures against possible pandemic diseases.

The Judicial Yuan shall establish a remedy system for detained foreign nationals to seek remediation through litigation and compensation for unlawful detention, they said.

Lack of protection of human rights of detained foreign nationals was not only inconsistent with the Constitution, but also in violation of international norms, the Control Yuan report concluded.

According to the NIA, currently there are a total of four shelters nationwide that hold Chinese and foreign nationals.