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Trafficking in Persons Interim Assessment

OT0701E | Date: 2007-01-24


Taiwan authorities have made modest progress in combating trafficking in persons since the release of the 2006 Report. In November, Taiwan authorities issued an Action Plan that opens a dialogue with civil society and created a multi-agency task force to be headed by a specially appointed cabinet-level minister. The Taiwan authorities reported an increased number of cases submitted for prosecution in 2006 that are related to trafficking in persons, though it is not known how many involve actual trafficking crimes. Prosecutions and convictions through October 2006 for child sexual abuse, including trafficking offenses, decreased to 98 from 150 during the same timeframe in 2005, but conviction rates increased by twelve percent. Taiwan authorities, however, failed to prosecute any offenses of trafficking for forced labor or domestic servitude despite evidence of a significant trafficking problem among the 350,000 Thai, Indonesian, Vietnamese, and Filipino workers in Taiwan.

Taiwan authorities did not make progress in developing a system to identify and protect foreign workers who have been subjected to conditions of forced labor or involuntary servitude. A few NGOs are the only source of protection and legal aid for foreign victims of trafficking who have fled from abusive Taiwan employers. Taiwan labor brokers reportedly continued to deport involuntarily foreign workers who complained about abusive conditions, preventing any opportunity for the worker to press criminal charges of forced labor. Nevertheless, the Council for Labor Affairs made significant improvements in its policies and regulations governing the terms and conditions of work for foreign laborers in Taiwan, including bilateral agreements reached with Indonesia, the Philippines, Thailand, and Vietnam, to allow foreign domestic workers to apply directly to the Taiwan Council for Labor Affairs for work, rather than going through Taiwan labor brokerage agencies that are known for exploitative practices. To encourage foreign workers to cooperate with time-consuming trafficking investigations and prosecutions, Taiwan authorities ceased the practice of deducting the time required to complete a trafficking case from the authorized work period in Taiwan. Punishment for employers who exploit foreign laborers and use forced labor, however, remain administrative (fines), and thus inadequate to deter additional trafficking crimes.

To prevent trafficking of Southeast Asian women through fraudulent marriages -- which has become a significant problem in Taiwan -- the Ministry of Interior banned the registration of new international marriage firms based in Taiwan and strengthened regulations and monitoring of existing firms. Steps taken by the Taiwan Ministry of Foreign Affairs to tighten the screening of Southeast Asian women applying for visas as "brides" of Taiwan men has led to a marked decrease in the number of spousal visas issued.

(The complete Trafficking in Persons Interim Assessment report is available at