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Review ordered into police search at Taipei Sacred Heart Church

Police entered church without consent in May to search for unaccounted-for migrant workers

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The Shulin church where the search occurred is pictured in 2012. (Facebook, Sacred Heart Church of Jesus Photo)

The Shulin church where the search occurred is pictured in 2012. (Facebook, Sacred Heart Church of Jesus Photo)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — Authorities have requested an investigation into the conduct of police officers who entered the Sacred Heart Church of Jesus in Taipei’s Shulin District without permission in May, to search for unaccounted-for migrant workers.

Taiwan’s government auditor issued a press release on Thursday (Nov. 30) and expressed concern over police actions in the church, which occurred during mass, saying it is possible religious freedom was impacted. The Control Yuan press release said police entered the venue without consent to search for missing migrant workers.

Police apprehended one migrant worker during the search, which reportedly caused upset and fear among churchgoers. The Control Yuan asked officers involved to explain exactly what procedures they followed during the search, and to explain if they complied with law enforcement and religious freedom laws.

Police were also asked to explain how they would conduct searches in religious institutions in the future, and what laws apply to this practice.

The Shulin church is frequented by many Filippino and Vietnamese migrant workers, a representative of the church said. In October, Taiwan’s labor ministry said 84,000 workers were unaccounted for, which some migrant workers attributed to systematic issues within the agency and broker system.