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Cablegate: Tip Update: Taiwan Maintains Anti-Trafficking

VZCZCXRO6501
PP RUEHCN RUEHGH
DE RUEHIN #2632/01 3540928
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 200928Z DEC 07
FM AIT TAIPEI
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 7647
INFO RUEHBK/AMEMBASSY BANGKOK PRIORITY 3921
RUEHBJ/AMEMBASSY BEIJING PRIORITY 7575
RUEHHI/AMEMBASSY HANOI PRIORITY 3410
RUEHJA/AMEMBASSY JAKARTA PRIORITY 4155
RUEHML/AMEMBASSY MANILA PRIORITY 0225
RUEHUL/AMEMBASSY SEOUL PRIORITY 9118
RUEHKO/AMEMBASSY TOKYO PRIORITY 9348
RUEHCN/AMCONSUL CHENGDU PRIORITY 2275
RUEHGZ/AMCONSUL GUANGZHOU PRIORITY 0737
RUEHHK/AMCONSUL HONG KONG PRIORITY 8846
RUEHGH/AMCONSUL SHANGHAI PRIORITY 1554
RUEHSH/AMCONSUL SHENYANG PRIORITY 6245
RUEAIIA/CIA WASHDC PRIORITY
RHEFDIA/DIA WASHINGTON DC PRIORITY
RUEKJCS/SECDEF WASHINGTON DC PRIORITY

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 03 TAIPEI 002632

SIPDIS

SIPDIS

STATE FOR G/TIP, G, INL, DRL, PRM, EAP/RSP, EAP/TC

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: KCRM KPAO KWMN PGOV PHUM PREL SMIG TW
SUBJECT: TIP UPDATE: TAIWAN MAINTAINS ANTI-TRAFFICKING
MOMENTUM


1. (U) Summary: Taiwan continues to make progress in its
fight against human trafficking. The Taiwan authorities and
local NGOs co-sponsored three separate TIP conferences over
the past month. The Legislative Yuan (LY) amended the
Immigration Law to provide additional protections for
trafficking victims, and banned for-profit marriage brokerage
services. The Council of Labor Affairs (CLA) extended the
legal work period for foreign workers from six to nine years.
CLA has also promised to ease restrictions on foreign
workers' ability to change employers, and to implement a
direct-hiring process for domestic helpers by year's end.
The Immigration and Justice ministries are completing work on
the first draft of a comprehensive anti-trafficking statute.
Despite this progress, NGOs and human rights activists called
a march to protest the poor working conditions, inadequate
legal protections, and corrupt labor brokerage system which
still plague tens of thousands of foreign laborers in Taiwan.
End Summary.

Trafficking Conferences
-----------------------

2. (U) On November 26, the Ministry of Interior (MOI) and
National Immigration Agency (NIA) sponsored and participated
in a one-day conference hosted by the Good Shepherd Sisters,
a local Catholic NGO. More than 100 people attended the
conference, including police, prosecutors, judges and NGO
representatives from around Taiwan. It is difficult to
identify or protect trafficking victims, said several police
officers, because foreign workers fear the police and often
conceal the truth. Prosecutors complained that Taiwan law
offers trafficking victims little incentive to testify,
making it difficult to build cases against suspected
traffickers. Without an anti-trafficking statute, one judge
noted, prosecutors must rely on other criminal laws to pursue
traffickers. Some statutes, like Taiwan's anti-slavery law,
carry heavy jail sentences, but also impose evidentiary
burdens which are difficult to prove in trafficking cases.
Other offenses, like document fraud and perjury, are easier
to prove, but punishments are far less severe. For these
reasons, the judge concluded, many traffickers receive light
punishment or escape conviction entirely.

3. (U) On December 6-8, a coalition of NGOs led by the Stella
Maris International Service Center hosted the "2007
International Conference on Globalization and Human Rights of
Migrants." The event was sponsored by MOI, the Foreign
Ministry (MOFA) and the Council for Labor Affairs (CLA). The
second and third days of the conference focused on the
history and development of Taiwan's foreign labor market and
recommendations to improve protections and services for
Taiwan's foreign worker population. Participants included
Taiwan government officials, international and local NGO
representatives, and local academic and religious leaders.

4. (U) Father Peter Nguyen of the Vietnamese Migrant Workers
and Brides Office (VMWBO) recommended the following reforms
for Taiwan's foreign worker system: (1) replacing the current
brokerage system with a government-run direct-hiring system;
(2) extending Labor Standards Act protections to domestic
helpers; (3) eliminating the nine-year time restriction to
allow foreign workers to remain in Taiwan as long as they
have legal employment; (4) allowing foreign workers to form
their own unions or to join existing ones; and (5) enabling
foreign workers to change employers at will. In response to
Fr. Peter's points, CLA Deputy Director Chou announced CLA's
plan to open by year's end a direct-hiring service for
domestic helpers and five new employer counseling centers.
Chou also stated that CLA intends in the near future to
liberalize rules governing a foreign worker's right to change
employers. Fr. Peter told AIT that VMWBO had compiled a list
of dozens of foreign workers currently held in detention
centers who, according to Fr. Peter, should be identified as
trafficking victims and removed from detention. VMWBO

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intends to submit this list to NIA for consideration in the
near future. AIT will stay in contact with VMWBO and NIA to
monitor progress on this issue.

5. (U) On December 9, in conjunction with the Liberal
International Conference on Human Rights in Taipei, the
Taiwan Foundation for Democracy hosted a conference on human
trafficking in Asia. In his opening remarks, President Chen
called for increased international cooperation to help Taiwan
eliminate its human trafficking problem. Panelists from the
Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe compared the
very different strategies adopted to discourage sex
trafficking: the Netherlands legalized the purchase and sale
of sexual services, while in Sweden it is legal to sell
sexual services, but not to buy them. (Note: Prostitutes are
not punished criminally in Sweden, but their clients are. End
note.) The panelists concluded that as long as it is legal
to purchase sex, women will be trafficked to meet the demand.
In another session, representatives from local and
international NGOs asserted that traditional male attitudes
about sex and women's inferior social status also helped
perpetuate the demand for commercialized sex in Asia and
around the world. They argued that governments can reduce
that demand (and the number of trafficking victims) by
educating boys and young men to regard girls and women as
equals to be treated with respect.

Foreign Workers Protest
-----------------------

6. (U) Also on December 9, ten local and international NGOs
convened the "2007 National Migrants Rally - I Want My Day
Off!" rally, to protest the substandard working and living
conditions endured by Taiwan's foreign worker population.
According to VMWBO's My-Nga Le, more than 2,000 people
participated in the peaceful rally. Le said MOI and CLA
officials were also invited but did not attend.

Amended Immigration Law
-----------------------

7. (U) On November 30, the Legislative Yuan amended Taiwan's
immigration law to provide additional protections for
trafficking victims. The amendment requires local police and
prosecutors to establish dedicated anti-trafficking units.
Law enforcement agencies must protect trafficking victims'
identities and personal information from public disclosure.
Government agencies must ensure trafficking victims' personal
safety, and provide them with appropriate housing, medical
and psychiatric care, counseling services, translation
assistance and legal counseling services. If the victim is a
minor, a social worker must be assigned to his or her case,
and must be present during police questioning, all legal
proceedings, and trial.

8. (U) If a trafficking victim cooperates with prosecutors by
providing testimony or other assistance, the victim shall be
entitled to the protections afforded by Taiwan's Witness
Protection Law. Additionally, such cooperation shall be
considered by prosecutors and judges to reduce or eliminate
the victim's liability for any criminal or administrative
violations. Victims who cooperate with prosecutors are
entitled to receive temporary visas to remain in Taiwan up to
six months, and can request extensions. However, once the
prosecutor closes the case, the trafficking victims will be
repatriated to his or her home country.

9. (U) The revised immigration law also bans for-profit
marriage brokerage agencies. It is now illegal for marriage
agencies to advertise their services or to ask for fees. The
law provides a one-year period for existing marriage agencies
to wind up their operations. Violators will face fines
between NT$200,000 and NT$1 million (US$6,250-$31,250) for
failure to comply. Non-profit groups will be allowed to

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arrange marriages between foreigners and Taiwan residents.

Draft TIP Statute Under Review
------------------------------

10. (U) According to NIA Immigration Affairs Division
Director Chien Hui-jiuan and Ministry of Justice (MOJ) High
Court TIP Prosecutor Jenny Chen, NIA and MOJ recently
submitted the first draft of a comprehensive anti-TIP statute
to the Interior Ministry for approval. According to
Prosecutor Chen, MOI will review and amend the draft as
necessary before submitting it to the Executive Yuan for
review. NIA Director Chien advised that the Interior
Ministry is expected to complete its review process by April
2008. The Executive Yuan could approve the statute as early
as next June, she added, paving the way for the proposal to
go the LY for consideration. AIT has offered to send the
draft statute to US DOJ's Civil Rights Division for its
review and suggestions, but MOJ and NIA have not yet replied.

Comment
-------

11. (U) The subject of human trafficking is receiving more
attention in Taiwan than ever before. Government agencies
and NGOs maintain a constant dialogue through public
conferences and day-to-day contacts. That interaction is
bearing fruit, as evidenced by the increased TIP victim
protections included in the recently amended Immigration Act,
and the elimination of for-profit marriage brokerage agencies
frequently used to traffick women to Taiwan. Although much
progress has been made, much remains to be done. Elder-care
interest groups continue to block efforts to extend Labor
Standards Act protections to Taiwan's 160,000 domestic
helpers and caregivers, and the exploitative brokerage system
remains largely untouched. According to NGOs, police,
prosecutors, and NIA officials frequently fail to identify
TIP victims, and too often punish even those who have been
identified as victims for immigration and labor offenses.
AIT will continue to work with Taiwan counterparts to address
these and other TIP issues, and will keep G/TIP informed of
Taiwan's progress.
YOUNG

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