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Control Yuan finds visa-free programs adding to crime in Taiwan

2017/11/24 20:27:14

CNA file photo

Taipei, Nov. 24 (CNA) There has been an increase in foreign nationals engaging in illegal activities in Taiwan since the country initiated visa-free entry programs under its New Southbound Policy, according to a Control Yuan report released on Friday.

The government has extended visa-free access to 17 diplomatic allies in Latin America, the Caribbean and the Pacific as well as 10 Southeast Asian countries and six South Asian countries covered by the New Southbound Policy, the report said.

But while these programs help promote diplomatic relations and tourism, nationals from these countries appear to be taking advantage of them to come to Taiwan and engage in such illegal activities as drug smuggling, human trafficking, and prostitution, the report said.

In the case of Thailand, there has been an increase of 157 Thai nationals who have been arrested for crimes in Taiwan since the trial visa-free entry program was rolled out for Thailand and Brunei in August 2016, according to the report.

The Control Yuan, which monitors the behavior of government officials and agencies, said it would ask the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) and the Ministry of Interior (MOI) to review the many visa-free entry programs based on its findings, especially with rises in crime correlated to countries given visa-free entry treatment.

The report also warned that many of the New Southbound Policy countries receiving visa-free treatment are source countries for migrant workers in Taiwan.

With 50,000 migrant workers in Taiwan unable to be accounted for at present, there is also a concern that nationals from these countries will take advantage of the program to come work or stay illegally in Taiwan, the report said.

It recommended that law enforcement authorities record the nationality of people who violate the Social Order Maintenance Act, something not currently done, so that a database can be created to help assess risk with the MOFA evaluates whether to grant visa-free access to a country.

(By Liu Lee-jung and Kuan-lin Liu)