Taiwan keeps top ranking in U.S. human trafficking report

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File photo of arrested human traffickers at airport 

File photo of arrested human traffickers at airport  (CNA photo)

Taiwan received a top-tier ranking for the 11th consecutive year in the annual Trafficking in Persons Report released by the U.S. State Department on Thursday.

Taiwan was listed in the Tier 1 category because its authorities "fully meet the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking," according to the report.

In the past year, Taiwan has continued to implement policy initiatives to streamline investigations; continued oversight of vulnerable labor recruitment channels; and increased inspections and investigatory referrals of potential forced labor cases on fishing vessels, the report said.

The report said, however, that "disparate and ineffective victim identification procedures" have complicated some victims' access to justice and protection care.

Specifically, "insufficient staffing and inspections have continued to impede efforts to combat forced labor on Taiwan-flagged and -owned fishing vessels in the highly vulnerable distant water fleet," the report said.

Migrant domestic caregivers also "remained at a higher risk of exploitation in the absence of specific legislation ensuring their labor rights," it said.

The report recommended that Taiwan strengthen inspection protocols, reporting mechanisms and deterrents to end forced labor and other forms of trafficking in its distant water fishing fleet.

It should also eliminate all recruitment and service fees and deposits for foreign workers, and coordinate with countries from which the workers are coming to facilitate direct hiring, the report said.

To protect foreign students, Taiwan should exercise stricter oversight of recruitment practices being used by for-profit universities, according to the report.

The 2020 Trafficking in Persons Report ranked countries in one of four tiers, based not on the size of a country's problem but on the extent of government efforts to eliminate human trafficking.

Taiwan was one of 34 countries overall to receive a Tier 1 placement, and one of only six countries in the Asia Pacific. The others were Australia, New Zealand, the Philippines, Singapore and South Korea. (By Wang Cheng-chung and Matthew Mazzetta)