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Cablegate: Ait Visits Sanhsia Immigration Detention Facility:

VZCZCXRO6492
PP RUEHCN RUEHGH
DE RUEHIN #1912/01 2340132
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 220132Z AUG 07 ZDK
FM AIT TAIPEI
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 6469
INFO RUEHBJ/AMEMBASSY BEIJING PRIORITY 7146
RUEHUL/AMEMBASSY SEOUL PRIORITY 8839
RUEHKO/AMEMBASSY TOKYO PRIORITY 9000
RUEHCN/AMCONSUL CHENGDU PRIORITY 2045
RUEHGZ/AMCONSUL GUANGZHOU PRIORITY 0475
RUEHHK/AMCONSUL HONG KONG PRIORITY 8401
RUEHGH/AMCONSUL SHANGHAI PRIORITY 1295
RUEHSH/AMCONSUL SHENYANG PRIORITY 6014
RUEAIIA/CIA WASHDC PRIORITY
RHEFDIA/DIA WASHINGTON DC PRIORITY
RUEKJCS/SECDEF WASHINGTON DC PRIORITY

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 TAIPEI 001912

SIPDIS

SIPDIS

STATE FOR G/TIP, G, INL, DRL, PRM

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: OMIG KCRM PHUM KWMN ELAB SMIG ASEC KFRD PREF
PGOV, CH, TW
SUBJECT: AIT VISITS SANHSIA IMMIGRATION DETENTION FACILITY:
ROOM TO IMPROVE

1. Summary: Most detainees at the Sanhsia detention
facility initially came to Taiwan on legal work visas, but
became illegal workers after seeking higher wages with
unauthorized employers, or by staying to work after their
visas had expired. Detainees arrive at Sanhsia after their
arrest by police, immigration, or coast guard authorities.
They remain there until a county prosecutor decides to
prosecute or deport them. Most detainees stay no more than
40 days, though six detainees have been at Sanhsia in excess
of nine months, awaiting prosecutors' decisions. Detainees
live in sanitary, if slightly cramped conditions, are
provided decent meals and access to medical care and
exercise. AIT observed detention center staff and detainees
treating each other with courtesy and respect. The Director
of the Sanhsia facility insisted his responsibility is to
provide humane treatment to detainees, not to determine if
they are victims of trafficking; therefore, Sanhsia officers
rarely refer suspected trafficking victims to superiors at
the National Immigration Agency (NIA) for reclassification as
victims, rather than illegal immigrants. Sanhsia's Director
admitted to AIT that, under Taiwan's existing immigration
system, trafficking victims can still too easily fall through
the cracks. End Summary.

2. On August 15, AIT Human Rights Officer visited the
National Immigration Agency (NIA) detention center for
non-PRC nationals, located in Sanhsia Township, Taipei
County. AIT accompanied two social workers and two nuns
affiliated with Hope Workers' Center (HWC), located in
Taoyuan. According to Director Lin Ching-lung, the Sanhsia
facility currently houses 256 individuals, including 132 men
and 124 women. This is near its monthly average of 250
detainees. According to Lin, ninety percent of the detainees
at Sanhsia entered Taiwan legally to work, but decided to
flee their assigned employers to seek better pay, or
continued to work illegally after their work visas expired.
The remaining ten percent used visitors' visas or were
smuggled into Taiwan to work illegally.

3. Men and women are housed on different floors of the
detention facility. Muslims, mostly from Indonesia, are
housed separately from non-Muslims (mostly Filipinos,
Malaysians, Thais and Vietnamese), to honor their special
dietary restrictions and daily worship regimen. Detainees
are kept behind bars in groups of 50-70. They sleep in bunk
beds and share a large common room for eating and watching
television. Bathroom facilities are concealed from the
guards' view. Detainees are permitted to keep toiletries and
a small amount of clothing with them in detention. Their
luggage and other personal effects are stored in a separate
locked room. AIT observed one female detainee with a
newborn infant. A guard advised that both mother and child
would be relocated to an NGO shelter within the next few
days. According to Director Lin's deputy, Commander Lin
Chun-liang, detainees receive three meals per day. At lunch
on the day AIT visited, the detainees were offered chicken
legs, fish balls, rice, vegetables, and whole fruit. One of
the HWC nuns who visits the detention facility regularly
remarked to AIT that the meal was slightly better than usual,
in that detainees typically are given only one type of
protein per meal, and fruit only a few times per week.

4. Commander Lin told AIT that a doctor visits the facility
three days each week, and that emergency medical care is
available 24 hours a day. Detainees are permitted to
exercise outside two days each week. Telephone calls are
permitted on Tuesday, Thursday, and weekends. Most detainees
purchase long-distance calling cards to call relatives
outside Taiwan. NGOs, including Hope Workers' Center, often
provide calling cards to those detainees who cannot afford to
buy them. One of the nuns told AIT that guards customarily
treated detainees with courtesy and respect; AIT observed
this to be the case during our visit. Commander Lin told AIT
that problematic detainees are sometimes separated from the
rest of the group and held in a small detention cell for
24-48 hours, to discourage them from further misconduct. AIT
inquired about two worn wooden batons seen hanging near a
guard station. Commander Lin said physical force is rarely

TAIPEI 00001912 002 OF 002


used against detainees. A nun from HWC told AIT that, as
little as two years ago, guards regularly punished detainees
by forcing them to maintain strenuous physical positions.
This practice was stopped after NGOs began to visit the
facility regularly 18 months ago, she added.

5. Director Lin told AIT that detainees are sent to Sanhsia
after their arrest by local police, immigration police, or
coast guard authorities. According to current guidelines,
Lin said, the arresting officer should determine whether the
individual is a trafficking victim or not, and report his or
her findings to the local prosecutor's office. The
prosecutor should then review the arresting officer's report,
and if necessary, conduct further investigation to determine
whether the individual is a trafficking victim or an illegal
immigrant. Those deemed to be illegal immigrants are sent to
one of three NIA detention centers for holding, until the
prosecutor decides to file charges or to repatriate the
arrestee to his or her home country.

6. Director Lin acknowledged to AIT that the current system
relies too heavily on the arresting officer's initial report.
If the arresting officer is unsympathetic or does not
understand the definition of a trafficking victim, Lin added,
he might improperly classify someone as an immigration
violator, instead of a trafficking victim. Lin conceded that
if the prosecutor is overworked and doesn't investigate
further, it is possible for some trafficking victims to fall
through the cracks. He emphasized that his responsibility is
not to investigate individual cases, but to provide humane
treatment to the detainees while they await a prosecutor's
decision to charge or repatriate them. Nonetheless, he
continued, NIA officers at Sanhsia interview all incoming
detainees, and will on rare occasions contact the NIA central
office to report potential trafficking victims. The NIA will
then contact the relevant prosecutor's office to suggest
reconsideration of a particular individual's case. According
to Commander Lin, four Vietnamese women assigned to Sanhsia
for holding are currently being reconsidered for NGO shelter
care, following a recommendation by Sanhsia officers.

7. Commander Lin told AIT that most detainees spend no more
than 30-40 days in detention before they are either
prosecuted or repatriated. However, AIT encountered one
Indonesian fisherman who had been detained at Sanhsia for
nearly ten months. When asked about this case, Director Lin
said the responsible prosecutor in Nantou County had not yet
decided to charge or deport this man, despite repeated
prodding from Lin and his seniors at NIA. In reviewing the
detention center's records, Director Lin also identified to
AIT five other Indonesians detained in excess of nine months.
He complained that if these men are criminals, they should
be charged, convicted, and placed in jail. The NIA does not
have the budget or appropriate facilities for long-term
detention, he added, and the Justice Ministry should not be
permitted to shift the burden of prisoner care from the
criminal justice system to the NIA. What is worse, an HWC
nun added, is that if these Indonesians are ultimately tried
and convicted of immigration or other violations, under
Taiwan law they will not receive credit for the time already
served in detention. AIT intends to raise these cases with
the Taipei High Court Prosecutors Office.

8. Comment: Some trafficking victims probably do end up at
Sanhsia, but, because detention center officials do not see
themselves as charged with detecting victims, this error is
likely to go uncorrected. In rare cases where trafficking
victims are identified at Sanhsia, there is no procedure in
place for Sanhsia officials to directly contact the
prosecutor in charge of the case, causing weeks or months to
go by before victims are relocated to shelters. The current
detention process is often unfair to illegal immigrants too,
since there is no limit on how long detainees can be held
before trial or deportation, and no credit is given for time
served in detention. AIT will continue to address these and
other concerns with Taiwan's NIA and Justice Ministry. End
Comment.
YOUNG

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