TAIWAN: Tier 1
Taiwan is a destination for men, women, and children subjected to forced labor and sex trafficking and, to a much lesser extent, a source of men and women subjected to forced labor and sex trafficking. Most trafficking victims are migrant workers from Indonesia, the Philippines, Thailand, Vietnam, and to a lesser extent, mainland China and Cambodia. Most of Taiwan’s over 550,000 migrant workers are hired in their home countries through recruitment agencies and brokers, some of whom are from Taiwan, to perform low-skilled work as home caregivers and domestic workers or in the farming, manufacturing, construction, and fishing industries. Some migrant workers are charged exorbitantly high recruitment fees, resulting in substantial debts used by brokers or employers as tools of coercion to obtain or retain their labor. After recruitment fee repayments are garnished from their wages, some foreign workers in Taiwan earn significantly less than minimum wage. Domestic workers and home caregivers are especially vulnerable to exploitation, since they often live in their employers’ residences, making it difficult to monitor their working and living conditions. Brokers in Taiwan often assist employers in forcibly deporting “problematic” foreign employees should they complain; this enables the broker to fill the empty positions with new foreign workers and continually use debt bondage to control the work force. Documented and undocumented migrant workers, mostly from mainland China, Indonesia, and Vietnam, have experienced indicators of trafficking on Taiwan fishing vessels including non- or underpayment of wages, long working hours, physical abuse, lack of food, and poor living conditions. 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. Men and women from Taiwan are exploited and vulnerable to trafficking abroad in illegal business operations. Women from Taiwan are recruited through classified ads for employment in Japan, Australia, the United Kingdom, and the United States; after their arrival in these countries, some are forced into prostitution.
Taiwan authorities fully comply with the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking. During the reporting period, authorities continued to prosecute trafficking offenses, including both forced labor and sex trafficking, trained law enforcement and other officials on trafficking indicators, and raised public awareness of trafficking. There were, however, no arrests or convictions for trafficking violations on Taiwan fishing vessels. Prosecutors and judges continued to demonstrate limited understanding of trafficking crimes by not appropriately recognizing or exhibiting limited awareness of trafficking crimes.
RECOMMENDATIONS FOR TAIWAN:
Increase efforts to prosecute and convict traffickers under Taiwan’s anti-trafficking law; vigorously investigate and prosecute, using the newly established procedures, the owners of Taiwan-owned or -flagged fishing vessels who allegedly commit abuse and labor trafficking onboard long haul fishing vessels; increase efforts to reduce exploitation of migrant workers by brokers, including Taiwan recruiters and Taiwan employers, by simplifying the process of direct hiring and building public awareness of the Direct Hiring Service Center; designate specialized anti-trafficking trainers within Taiwan’s law enforcement and judicial sectors to improve the effectiveness of anti-trafficking training, and to decrease the knowledge gap among prosecutors and judges; institutionalize anti-trafficking training for Taiwan authorities being deployed overseas; address gaps in basic labor protections for household caregivers and domestic workers; sentence convicted traffickers to sufficiently stringent punishments; establish a systematic information sharing process to foster more robust interagency anti-trafficking coordination; disaggregate case information to ensure that reported trafficking cases are correctly recognized; actively operationalize information sharing memoranda of understanding, including for the travel of individuals who have committed child sexual exploitation; and continue efforts to increase public awareness of all forms of trafficking.
Authorities sustained anti-trafficking law enforcement efforts. Taiwan’s Human Trafficking Prevention and Control Act (HTPCA) prohibits sex and labor trafficking and prescribes penalties of up to seven years’ imprisonment; these penalties are sufficiently stringent and commensurate with those prescribed for other serious crimes, such as rape. Despite the anti-trafficking law, authorities prosecuted the majority of trafficking cases under other laws, such as the Criminal Code, and the Children and Youth Sexual Exploitation Prevention Law.
Authorities initiated prosecutions against 71 suspected traffickers, compared with 130 in 2013, and convicted 17 traffickers, compared with 39 in 2013, under the HTPCA; sentences imposed on the majority of the traffickers were six months to less than one year. Under the Children and Youth Sexual Exploitation Prevention Law, authorities initiated prosecutions against 57 alleged traffickers, compared with 59 in 2013, and convicted 25 traffickers, compared with 41 in 2013. Under the Criminal Code, authorities initiated prosecutions against nine alleged sex traffickers, compared with 35 in 2013, and convicted four traffickers, compared with six in 2013. A Cambodian court convicted six Taiwan nationals for enslaving 74 Cambodians onboard Taiwan fishing vessels, but at the end of the reporting period, Taiwan authorities had not yet convicted any traffickers associated with this case (five of six remain at-large in Taiwan) or prosecuted other cases involving abuses onboard Taiwan-flagged vessels. During the year, authorities continued to train law enforcement officers, prosecutors, and judges through various workshops, seminars, and conferences; however, many prosecutors and judges continued to demonstrate a limited understanding of trafficking crimes. Authorities did not report any investigations, prosecutions, or convictions of Taiwan authorities complicit in human trafficking offenses.
Authorities sustained efforts to protect victims of trafficking. Authorities identified and assisted 292 trafficking victims (86 sex trafficking victims and 206 forced labor victims), compared with 366 in 2012; all 292 were referred to shelters for assistance. Law enforcement officials used standardized questions and evaluation forms when interviewing and referring potential trafficking victims. The National Immigration Agency (NIA) operated three shelters dedicated to trafficking victims, and the Ministry of Labor subsidized an additional 19 shelters and a 24-hour hotline trafficking victims could access. These shelters provided trafficking victims—both men and women—with medical and psychological services, legal counseling, vocational training, small stipends, interpretation, and repatriation assistance. Authorities encouraged victims to participate in investigations against their traffickers by offering temporary residence and work permits. Authorities made available permanent residence visas to foreign trafficking victims who faced retribution or hardship if they returned to their country of origin. Victims were able to obtain restitution or file civil suits against traffickers, but no victims sought this option. Although victims could receive immunity for crimes committed as a result of being subjected to trafficking, NGOs reported authorities occasionally treated trafficking victims as criminals.
Authorities sustained efforts to prevent trafficking through numerous awareness campaigns, workshops, and conferences. A cabinet-level minister-without-portfolio continued to implement the national plan of action and oversee an interagency working group, which met twice in 2014. Members of the working group established standard operating procedures to handle offshore disputes involving Taiwan-flagged vessels, including incidents of trafficking. Various agencies continued to fund advertisements and public service announcements on human trafficking prevention in newspapers, magazines, and on the radio, and distributed anti-trafficking posters and pocket cards in seven languages. Authorities continued to operate foreign-worker service stations and international airport service counters around Taiwan to assist migrant workers and educate them on their rights. To address exploitation associated with labor recruitment, authorities denied 21 business licenses to those complicit in trafficking and fined 73 individuals. Authorities continued to operate the Direct Hiring Service Center to allow employers to directly hire their labor force, instead of utilizing brokers; the hiring process, however, remained cumbersome and the services were not well-publicized. Taiwan’s laws criminalize sexual exploitation of children by Taiwan passport holders traveling abroad, but authorities have not investigated or prosecuted any child sex tourism offenses committed abroad since 2006. Authorities provided anti-trafficking information to personnel posted overseas but did not fully implement pre-departure human trafficking training for new diplomats.