| In light of the nation’s recent years of success in curbing human trafficking, the Ministry of Interior (MOI) hosted the 2012 Asia Regional Forum on Combating Human Trafficking from May 29 to June 1. At the 4-day event, which was attended by immigration officials from 12 neighboring countries, Interior Minister Lee Hong-yuan declared human trafficking to be a serious violation of fundamental human rights, and called on the international community to join forces in putting a stop to the intercontinental crimes.
As listed in the 2012 Trafficking in Persons (TIP) Report that was released by the United States Department of State on June 19, the Republic of China (Taiwan) has been ranked “Tier 1” for 3 consecutive years starting in 2010, a coveted status given in recognition of the island’s remarkable progress in eliminating human trafficking from its shores. Before the 2012 TIP Report was made public, however, the first Asia Regional Forum on Combating Human Trafficking took place in Taipei, gathering 31 immigration officers and non-governmental representatives from Hong Kong, Japan, the Republic of Korea, the Philippines, Vietnam, Thailand, Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore, Cambodia, Mongolia and Australia, as well as 8 diplomatic officials from American, Thai, Korean, Malaysian, Mongolian, Singaporean and Vietnamese representative and trade offices in Taipei.
Out of the nation’s foreign population of roughly 1 million, 420 thousand non-nationals are registered as foreign laborers, whereas an additional 460 thousand long-term residents are listed as foreign or mainland Chinese spouses; those who are in Taiwan for academic and familial reasons round up the rest of the 1-million figure. Minister Lee stressed that the government will take full responsibility in safeguarding the basic human rights and civil liberties of these foreign residents. The MOI head added that one of the forum’s main objectives was to establish a pan-Asia cooperative platform that can be used to share information, promote official visits and exchange experiences in relations to human trafficking as to strengthen the region’s anti-human trafficking efforts.
The other highlights of the forum included 3 conferences covering the island’s newly updated immigration regulations, the latest findings on trafficking data and key case studies. The first conference outlined new border control procedures and efforts to promote foreign labor rights; the second discussion was on the treatment of human traffickers, ranging from capture, lodging and interrogation to legal implications; the last round of talks was based on sharing real-life data and experiences on raiding trafficking rings.
Several experts also presented their research and works on the strategic aspects of anti-trafficking measures – the four elements identified were prevention, protection, prosecution and partnership. One such keynote speaker who spoke about his extensive experience was Joseph Parker, a security official with the American Institute in Taiwan (AIT); his familiarity with the subject allowed all those who attended the event to benefit from the shared experiences of both Taiwan and the United States.