1. What is human trafficking?
A: Human trafficking appears in three types, namely sexual exploitation, labor exploitation, and organ harvesting.
In accordance with Article 2.1 of the Human Trafficking Prevention Act, "human trafficking" can be defined as follows:
(1) To recruit, transact, take into bondage, transport, deliver, receive, harbor, hide, broker, or accommodate local or foreign person, by force, threat, intimidation, confinement, monitoring, drugs, hypnosis, fraud, purposeful concealment of important information, illegal debt bondage, withholding important document, making use of the subject's inability, ignorance or difficulty to seeking help, or by other means against the subject's will, for the intention or purpose of subjecting him / her to sexual transaction, labor exploitation or pay not commiserating with the labor, or the harvest of his / her organ.
(2) To recruit, transact, take into bondage, transport, deliver, receive, harbor, hide, broker, or accommodate anyone under 18 years of age for the purpose of subjecting him / her to sex transaction, forced labor, or pay not commiserating with the labor, or the harvest of his / her organ or to subject anyone under 18 years of age to sexual transaction, labor exploitation or pay not commiserating with the labor, or the harvest of his / her organ.
Simply put, if a victim over 18 years of age is subjected to exploitation, illegal means, and any other human disposal behavior, it is human trafficking; if a person under 18 years old is engaged in sexual transactions, forced labor and pay not commiserating with the labor, or the harvest of his/her organ, he/she is considered a human trafficking victim.
2. What are the features of Human Trafficking Prevention Act?
(1) Offenders are subjected to heavier criminal penalties:
Anyone who uses illegal means to exploit and threat others to act against their own will or force people to work at a pay not commiserating with the labor shall be sentenced to an imprisonment of seven years and a fine of NT$ 5 million (increased from NT$ 500,000 in the past). Anyone who intends to harvest organ(s) from others by unlawful means shall be sentenced to an imprisonment of more than seven years and a fine of not more than NT7 million.
(2) A victim shall be placed under protection and sheltering, and issued a permit for temporary visiting, residence and permanent residence:
A suspected human trafficking victim will be informed of his/her rights and interests, questioned in isolation, and provided with appropriate assistance. If he/she is identified as a human trafficking victim, he/she shall be placed under protection and sheltering and provided with other necessary assistance. He/she may be accompanied by professionals (social workers) during interrogation and may be safely sent back to his/her country of origin after completion of judicial investigation. If he/she may have personal safety risk after returning to country of origin, the National Immigration Agency shall review his/her case and issue him/her a permit for temporary visiting, residence, and/or permanent residence. This is internationally considered as an important human rights indicator. According to the statistics, we offered protection to 329 victims in 2009 and 324 victims in 2010.
(3) A victim may apply for work permit:
A human trafficking victim can apply for a work permit to the central labor competent authorities without the restriction by the Employment Services Act and the Article 11 of Act Governing Relations between the People of the Taiwan Area and the Mainland Area. A work permit shall be issued depending on the duration he/she will stay in Taiwan. According to the statistics, during the period between June 1, 2009 and January 31, 2011, the National Immigration Agency issued 278 temporary residence permits and the Council of Labor Affairs issued 382 work permits to victims.
(4) An offender’s property is confiscated to compensate the victim(s):
When the offender of a human trafficking case is seized, he/she may have transferred his/her properties fraudulently and even taken refuge abroad, resulting in inability of a victim to obtain compensation even if the victim wins the case. The National Immigration Agency has thus set up an escrow account to deposit the confiscated property of the offender and to compensate the victim(s).
3. What are the causes for human trafficking?
A: Globalization has resulted in frequent cross-border population movements. War, poverty, and economic backwardness may force people to move to other countries to seek a better life and/or to support their family. Meanwhile, the developed countries have demand for low-level labor and sex trade, resulting in frequent international population movements. Some unscrupulous people have thus taken advantage of the situation to exploit the vulnerable. Human trafficking cases in Taiwan have been mainly involved with sexual exploitation and labor exploitation. Organ harvesting has not yet been found so far.
4. What are the human trafficking traps?
A: Traffickers usually disguise themselves as legitimate companies or use the media to advertise enviable job opportunities at home and abroad, to mention only a few methods they may adopt. Furthermore, traffickers are not necessarily strangers. They may be the victim's relatives, neighbors or friends. They may offer you with fraudulent marriages and deceptive employment or education offers. They may promise to get you a passport, a tourist visa or a work permit free of charge.
Those who engaged on the popular backpacking and working holiday activities abroad can easily fall prey to the traffickers. They may offer you work opportunities but in fact force you to sexual transactions or forced labor or other illegal behavior. It is urged that everyone shall work together to fight against and prevent human trafficking.
5. Who may easily become a human trafficking victim?
A: The victim may be men, women, children, the elderly, the disabled, and minorities, but women and children still account for the bulk of victims. According to United Nations statistics, the total number of global human trafficking victims remains in between 600,000 and 800,000 people every year, of whom 80% are women and children. If anyone has one of the following traits, he/she may be a human trafficking victim:
(1) Physical signs of violence or abuse.
(2) Detention of identity or travel documents.
(3) Restriction of liberty: He/she cannot come and go freely or he/she is always accompanied by others.
(4) He/she cannot freely communicate with others.
(5) Testimony to the Judicial Police shows signs of instruction by others.
(6) Pay or sexual transaction income is improperly deducted.
(7) Other human trafficking signs
6. How can our Government put an end to human trafficking?
A: Our government has implemented the Human Trafficking Prevention Act and its related regulations and administrative procedures since they were promulgated on June 1, 2009. Policy-wise, the Executive Yuan issued the Human Trafficking Prevention Action Plan in November 2006, which has stipulated the following 4 P strategies:
Each Judicial Police authority is instructed to strengthen investigation on human trafficking cases by setting up performance targets and tracing the criminal groups behind the scenes. Moreover, the Ministry of Justice has requested each District Prosecutors Office to strengthen the prosecution of human trafficking cases by more stringent punishment.
(A) Provision of sheltering and protection services: The National Immigration Agency and the Council of Labor Affairs have worked together with the nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) to set up 20 shelters for the victims (16 by labor administration units and 4 by the National Immigration Agency) to provide the victims with life care, psychological counseling, accompanied medical visits, escorted interrogation, legal advice and interpretation services.
(B) Issuance of temporary residence permits and work permits.
(A) Strengthening public awareness through multiple channels: To raise public awareness of human trafficking issues and strengthen the foreigners’ knowledge of their own rights and interests, three themes are propagandized, including "Understanding Human Trafficking Issues", "Understanding Human Trafficking Prevention Act" and "Promotion of Victim Protection Measures”.
(B) Capacity building and training: To enhance the professionals’ competency and ability to handle the cases, various education and training programs are provided, including the general education programs, the international workshops and seminars, the human trafficking prevention training programs for Judicial Police, and training camps for the elite seeds.
We shall actively cooperate with domestic and international NGOs and foreign governments. Domestic anti-human trafficking organizations shall be subsidized and encouraged to jointly promote human trafficking prevention. For example, NGOs shall be financially supported for holding international seminars, studying abroad, participating in the meetings, and organizing Human Trafficking Prevention Advocacy Film Festival. Moreover, the National Immigration Agency has set up Immigration Secretariat in the major cities around the world. Staff in the Secretariat shall be requested to keep in close contact with the host governments.
7. How to report any suspected human trafficking cases?
A: Human trafficking cases are likely to happen around us. The victim may be hidden in a secret place or he/she may be sitting or standing in front of us. He/she may be a helper next-door, a worker on the construction site, or a domestic worker and home caregiver in the same building. It is therefore urged that everyone pays attention to the people around you. If you find any suspected cases, please report to the National Immigration Agency at hotline (02)-23883095 or call the National Police Agency at hotline 110, or the Council of Labor Affairs at hotline 1955. We will immediately send Specialized Operation Brigade to the rescue and conduct identification right away. If he/she is identified as a human trafficking victim, the National Immigration Agency or Council of Labor Affairs shall immediately offer follow-up sheltering and protection, accompanied interrogation, psychological counseling or therapy, and necessary medical and legal assistance.
8. What assistances can our government offer to a human trafficking victim?
A: According to Article 17 of the Human Trafficking Prevention Act, the government provides a human trafficking suspect or victim with the following assistances:
(1) Protection of personal safety;
(2) Necessary medical assistance;
(3) Assistance of interpreter;
(4) Legal assistance;
(5) Psychological counseling or therapy;
(6) Presence with the victim during questioning (interrogation) throughout the investigation or trial;
(7) Necessary financial assistance;
(8) Other necessary assistances
9. The Government shall focus on the following tasks in the future:
(1) Continue to advocate human trafficking issues, so that more people will know and understand what human trafficking is.
(2) Law enforcement officers shall well carry out the identification and placement measures for a victim:
Law enforcement officers shall carry out identification and placement and protection of a human trafficking victim in accordance with applicable laws. In other words, when the law enforcement officers investigate a suspected human trafficking case and identify the victim, they shall immediately take the relevant placement and protection measures.
(3) Deliberate to legalize the protection of domestic workers and home caregivers so as to avoid labor exploitation:
To legalize the protection of foreign family-service workers, the Council of Labor Affairs have already drafted a special law and experts and scholars are invited to review it.
(4) The judiciary authorities shall continue to implement the Human Trafficking Prevention Act and strengthen the prosecution and sentencing of human trafficking crime.
(5) Strengthening international cooperation:
We shall continue to exchange intelligence with other countries through mutual legal assistance or cooperation in combating crimes. In addition, the Council of Labor Affairs shall cooperate with those countries exporting foreign workers to convene the Labor Conference to establish prevention, investigation and protection mechanisms. International symposium and workshops shall be organized every year and relevant competent authorities and NGOs of different countries shall be invited to discuss and establish a resource network for fighting against human trafficking.
10. What are the concrete results of human trafficking prevention in Taiwan?
The U.S. State Department published its Trafficking in Persons Report 2010 (2010 TIP Report) on June 14, 2010. It was pointed out that Taiwan had prevented human trafficking so effectively that its rating was upgraded from tier-2 in the previous year to tier-1 in 2010. Particular recognition and praise can be summarized in the following three points:
(1) Victims were provided with temporary residence permits and work permits, allowing them to earn income while assisting in the prosecution of their traffickers.
(2) Law enforcement officials were trained for victim identification and protection.
(3) Taiwan actively partnered with NGOs and foreign governments to improve their response.
All the above-mentioned actions are in line with the "Trafficking Victim Protection Act (TVPA)” of the U.S. Department of State.
According to the 2010 TIP Report, the Taiwan and South Korea were the only two countries rated as “Tier 1” among all the 36 evaluated countries in Asia. In addition, the National Immigration Agency organized a Human Trafficking Prevention Workshop last year to which President Ma, Executive Yuan Premier Wu, and representatives from foreign embassies and NGOs were invited to sign the joint declaration for the Prevention of Human Trafficking, proclaiming our determination to fight against crime and defend human rights! It is hoped that all of us can work together to support this important human rights issue.