The US Department of State on Thursday released its Trafficking in Persons Report for this year, placing Taiwan in the highest rank for the 11th consecutive year, but again advising that the nation improve efforts to stop exploitation of migrant workers.
The annual report ranks more than 180 countries in four tiers of anti-trafficking performance, with tier 1 being the best, followed by tier 2, tier 2 watch list and tier 3.
The report said that there were “significant challenges” that remained unaddressed in Taiwan and reiterated recommendations for improvement.
Photo: Lu Yi-hsuen, Taipei Times
“Insufficient staffing and inspection protocols continued to impede efforts to combat forced labor on Taiwan-flagged and owned fishing vessels in the highly vulnerable distant-water fleet (DWF),” the report said.
“Thousands of migrant domestic caregivers remained at higher risk of exploitation in the absence of specific legislation ensuring their labor rights,” it said.
Taiwan is advised to increase inspections and, where appropriate, prosecute the senior crew and owners of Taiwan-owned and flagged fishing vessels suspected of forced labor in the DWF, including vessels stopping in special foreign docking zones, the report said.
It also recommended that Taiwan train maritime inspection authorities on victim identification, referral and law enforcement notification procedures; formally include civil society input into the labor broker evaluation process; and amend policies and legislative loopholes to eliminate the imposition of recruitment and service fees, and deposits on workers.
“Traffickers reportedly take advantage of Taiwan’s New Southbound Policy visa-simplification program to lure Southeast Asian students and tourists to Taiwan and subject them to forced labor and sex trafficking,” the report said.
“Many trafficking victims are migrant workers from Indonesia, the Philippines, Thailand, Vietnam and, to a lesser extent, individuals from China, Cambodia and Sri Lanka,” it said.
Taiwan is home to more than 700,000 foreign workers, with some incurring substantial debt to pay brokers’ high recruitment fees and deposits, while many earn significantly less than the minimum wage, it said.
“Foreign workers who leave their contracted positions — nearly 50,000 at any given time — are at particularly high risk of trafficking, because they lose their immigration status and access to formal sector employment,” it said.
Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokeswoman Joanne Ou (歐江安) yesterday said that Taiwan has been listed in the report’s tier 1 for 11 consecutive years, proving the effectiveness of the nation’s anti-trafficking efforts.
The ministry would continue to work with agencies and civic groups, while partnering with the US based on the two sides’ memorandum of understanding for exchanging and disseminating information to combat human trafficking, she said.
Taiwan was one of 34 nations in tier 1, along with the Czech Republic, South Korea, the Philippines, Singapore, the UK and the US, the report said.
China was one of 19 nations in tier 3, which also includes Myanmar, North Korea and Nicaragua, it said.
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