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Seven people were arrested Monday on suspicion of trafficking 152 Vietnamese nationals with the possible intent of forcing them into illegal work, including prostitution, to pay off debts, according to Taiwan’s National Immigration Agency (NIA).
NIA official Hsieh Wen-chung (謝文忠) said investigations had revealed the Vietnamese nationals, who went missing in Taiwan last month, had entered the country after being lured by an agency run by three Vietnamese human traffickers in Taiwan, according to the Taipei Times. The three suspected traffickers, who were detained on Monday along with four alleged accomplices, charged US$1,000 to US$3,000 (NT$30,900 to NT$92,700) to each Vietnamese national for passage into Taiwan, said Hsieh.
Those unable to pay their debt were likely to be forced into illegal work, including prostitution, said Hsieh. He added that the mobile phone of one suspect contained pictures and videos of women believed to have been trafficked in various states of undress, which were apparently intended to be used for sex work.
The case has been turned over to the Kaohsiung District Prosecutors’ Office, which will pursue charges of violating the Immigration Act, Human Trafficking Prevention Act, Employment Services Act and Criminal Code, according to CNA.
The arrests shine a light on the enduring pervasiveness of human trafficking in Taiwan, especially of Southeast Asian nationals lured to the island under false pretenses. While the case of the 152 “missing” Vietnamese nationals has received generous attention from Taiwanese media, there has been little focus on the potential victimization of the Vietnamese nationals.
Taiwan has been a Tier 1 country in the U.S. State Department’s Trafficking in Persons Report since 2009, exhibiting a commitment to halting human trafficking. However, several consecutive reports have highlighted persistent problems in halting trafficking from Southeast Asian countries such as Vietnam, especially from rural, economically disadvantaged areas.
Huang Kuo-chang to resign as NPP head
New Power Party (NPP) legislator Huang Kuo-chang (黃國昌) announced on Monday he was stepping down as party chairman.
In a Facebook post, Huang said he was leaving a “well-grounded” party to “focus on the agenda for reforms that are important to Taiwan’s future.”
Huang said at a news conference later in the day that he had been considering resigning as NPP chairman since prior to last November’s midterm elections, according to CNA.
Huang said he hoped to see young politicians join the party ranks, saying the NPP is not a “one-man party.” He also said he was not considering a run for president in 2020, nor was he stepping down to take responsibility for the party’s loss in New Taipei City in November.
Other news from Taiwan:
► The German Trade Office Taipei says fewer German firms in Taiwan met business targets in 2018 than in 2017, urging the Taiwan government to ensure political stability and boost economic development. (Taipei Times)
► A flight attendants’ union asked EVA Air to take action against a male passenger accused of sexual harassment by a female flight attendant. (CNA)
► A hiker, identified as Gigi Wu (吳季芸), has died of suspected hypothermia after falling during a hike in central Taiwan’s Yushan mountain range. (CNA)
► Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) legislator Lai Jui-lung (賴瑞隆) called for a switch to national ID cards with integrated chips, citing the threat of Chinese fakes. (Taipei Times)
► A Taipei elementary school is using a social experiment to teach students the value of money – but it is not without controversy. (Al Jazeera)
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Editor: Nick Aspinwall (@Nick1Aspinwall)
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