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Report calls for Taiwan to amend laws to protect religious freedom

2012/07/31 20:31:33

Taipei, July 31 (CNA) Certain laws in Taiwan could be amended to offer better protection to religious freedom in the country, according to the recently published 2011 U.S. International Religious Freedom Report.

Labor laws and immigration regulations could be improved, the report said, pointing out that Taiwan's labor law does not protect the right of Catholic foreign workers to go to church once a week.

"An estimated 80,000 foreign workers in Taiwan are Catholic and, in the absence of a guaranteed day off, they are often unable to fulfill their religious duties," it said, adding that the Council of Labor Affairs is currently addressing the issue.

With regards to foreigners who wish to obtain missionary visas, the report noted that "Taiwan's immigration law does not have a formal provision for missionary visas for individuals who do not have the rank of priest or nun."

The report, which was released by the U.S. Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labor, also highlighted the first case in Taiwan of an employer being fined for religious discrimination.

Last year, Taiwan authorities fined a private Catholic school NT$60,000 (US$19,820) for firing two American teachers who were practicing Mormons.

The Taipei school claimed the teachers were "actively working against Catholic belief and that one teacher was offering extra credit to students who attended Mormon religious services," it said.

The report, which is published annually, describes the status of religious freedom in every country and region in the world. It also covers government policies toward religions, practices among groups and religious denominations.

(By Nancy Liu)