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81 Southeast Asian, African workers freed from squalor

81 Southeast Asian, African workers freed from squalor

Up to 81 fishing boat crewmen from Southeast Asian and African countries were resettled from abhorrent living quarters Tuesday in this southern Taiwan port city during an investigation by prosecutors into suspected trafficking of Vietnamese workers.

Officials of the Kaohsiung District Prosecutors Office said the 81 workers, from Vietnam, Indonesia, the Philippines, Tanzania and Mozambique, were locked up and guarded in two locations in the city's Qianzhen and Xiaogang districts.

In one of them, more than 10 workers slept on the floor in a jammed room, while in the other, up to 60 workers were living in a space of just 20 pings (66 square meters), according to the officials. No air conditioners were found in either place, they added.

The living conditions of the workers were horrible, and safety measures such as fire exits were "worrisome," a clear indication that their employers were keeping them in an "unreasonable" environment, said the officials, quoting prosecutors Chan Mei-ling and Liu Mu-shan,who were in charge of probing the case.

The two prosecutors were led to the two locations after they found that many foreign migrant workers were being taken directly from the port to the two places, where they then were kept locked up, under guard and under surveillance.

The prosecutors were pursuing a suspected human trafficking case involving a Vietnamese worker surnamed Ngyuen.

During a raid of the two locations, police arrested 11 people,including four fishing boat owners, on charges of violating Taiwan's human trafficking prevention law and obstructing freedom.

The suspects were later released on bail ranging from NT$30,000(US$917) to NT$100,000. One boat owner was ordered to report his whereabouts regularly to police, and another was released without bail.

Updated : 2021-06-23 17:21 GMT+08:00