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Groups demand in-depth investigation into migrant worker's death

2017/09/17 18:50:43

Portrait of Nguyen Quoc Phi/ CNA file photo

Taipei, Sept. 17 (CNA) Labor groups demanded on Sunday that the Executive Yuan establish a special task force to investigate the death of a Vietnamese migrant worker who was shot nine times while allegedly trying to steal a car and left to bleed to death.

The migrant worker, identified as Nguyen Quoc Phi, was reported as attempting to steal a car, and after police and a community watch officer surnamed Li (李) arrived at the scene in Hsinchu County, Nguyen attacked them with stones, according to police.

Police officer Chen Chung-wen (陳崇文) then fired nine shots at Nguyen, who eventually died from a loss of blood.

According to surveillance video from the ambulance, the community watch officer was attended to first while police and medical responders kept their distance from the wounded Nguyen.

It was only 30 minutes later when a second ambulance arrived that Nguyen was taken to the hospital, where he was pronounced dead.

In a telephone interview with CNA on Sunday, Taiwan Labor Front Secretary-General Son Yu-liam (孫友聯) said the incident reflected many problems with the migrant worker system in Taiwan and the prejudices such workers face in the country.

Son said Taiwanese companies employ foreign workers to fill manpower gaps, claiming they have a hard time finding Taiwanese workers, but then refuse to pay them reasonable salaries and disregard their human rights.

Nguyen was a runaway worker, and Son said many foreign migrant groups have repeatedly argued that workers tend to run away because they cannot freely change employers and have no other alternative when their human rights are not respected.

The incident, he said, also involved the issue of improper use of guns by the police as well as the taking of a precious life, which reflected the discrimination against migrant workers and the general abuse of their rights and interests.

In addition, Son bashed the government for not forming a team to investigate the matter, and said the authorities' handling of the situation reflected how this country treats an unarmed migrant worker.

He called for a Cabinet-level agency to set up a task force to investigate the incident, punish any misconduct, and give a clear accounting of what happened. If it doesn't, he argued, situations like this will continue to happen.

"The way to treat people is to treat them like a person," Son stressed, while also calling for a complete government review of migrant worker policies.

Taiwan International Workers Association member Hsu Wei-tung (許惟棟) said Nguyen's case was not straightforward, and any investigation needed to look into how the worker was treated while still employed, why the worker ran away, and how a police arrest could produce such a result.

Echoing Son, Hsu also believed that if migrant worker policies are not improved, such incidents will be repeated without end.

On the question of why medical responders ignored the critically wounded migrant worker, Hsu called for authorities to clarify who gave the orders at the scene and why the slightly injured community watch officer was given preferential medical attention over the worker.

(By Chang Ming-hsuan and William Yen)