Taipei, Jan. 2 (CNA) Taiwan's new plan requiring migrant workers from four Southeast Asian countries submit fingerprint records as part of their Taiwan visa applications was criticized as being "discriminatory" by a rights group on Monday.
The Taiwan Association for Human Rights (TAHR) blasted the plan, announced by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) late last year, as being a sheer violation of human rights and running counter to the spirit of the two major United Nations human rights agreements that President Ma Ying-jeou signed into law in May 2009.
The new requirement, which will take effect during the first quarter, will apply to migrant workers from Vietnam, Indonesia, Thailand and the Philippines who are seeking resident visas to stay in Taiwan for six months or more.
The MOFA plan is tantamount to a slap in Taiwan's face because President Ma has signed into law the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, which protect people's right to equality, privacy and the presumption of innocence, the TAHR said in a statement.
It pointed out that a nationwide campaign against fingerprinting was launched in 2005 after the government required that fingerprints be carried on newly-issued identification cards.
The plan was aborted that year after the justices of the Constitutional Court rules that it was "unconstitutional," the statement said.
As signatory of the two U.N. human rights pacts, Taiwan should not only protect the rights of its own citizens, the association said. Taiwan should also protect and respect the rights of other peoples from around the world, including the four Southeast Asian nations.
Since the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks in the United States, the U.S. has taken various security measures in the name of "anti-terrorism" that have infringed on people's right to privacy and on the right of personal freedom of visitors entering the U.S., the TAHR said.
While blindly following the U.S. security steps, such as fingerprinting and DNA identification measures, the MOFA has not given any thought to problems that might arise from the implementation of those security measures, the association said.
(By Ho Meng-kuei and Deborah Kuo)