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Vietnam envoy asks Taiwan to handle migrant's death based on law

2017/09/19 16:53:55

CNA file photo

Taipei, Sept. 19 (CNA) Vietnam's representative to Taiwan said Tuesday he has asked Taiwan's government to follow the law in handling the recent shooting death of a Vietnamese migrant worker by a Taiwanese police officer.

"We have contacted the Taiwanese government and asked them to handle the issue according to the law," Tran Duy Hai, the representative of the Vietnam Economic and Cultural Office in Taipei, told CNA in an interview at his office.

He also said he was happy to know that Taiwan's Control Yuan is currently investigating the case.

The deceased Vietnamese worker who had run away from his job, Nguyen Quoc Phi, was shot at nine times by a police officer in Hsinchu County on the morning of Aug. 31 and was later pronounced dead when he arrived at a hospital.

According to police, Nguyen attacked the police officer and a Taiwanese community watch officer when they tried to stop him from vandalizing and stealing a car.

Tran said the police notified his office of the shooting in the afternoon of Aug. 31, and Taiwanese and Vietnamese officials worked together to quickly issue a visa for Nguyen's father so that he could come to Taiwan the next day to handle the aftermath of the incident.

Asked whether his office has sought or received video of the incident to more clearly see what happened, Tran said the police have not provided his office with any footage of the shooting, but even if they did, he did not have the expertise to interpret it.

Nguyen's family and labor rights activists have requested to see police body cam footage of the shooting, if any exists, but the police have declined to release any images, saying the case is under investigation by prosecutors.

The envoy said it was the first time during his two years in Taiwan that he had heard of a Vietnamese migrant worker being shot dead by the police.

"We hope it doesn't affect bilateral relations," he said.

Although considering the police shooting an isolated case, Tran acknowledged that high brokerage fees are forcing many Vietnamese workers to run away from their jobs.

One of them may have been Nguyen, whom labor groups said left his employer because of the onerous fees, exposing the stigmatization suffered by "runaway" migrant workers in Taiwan who may have compelling financial motives for their actions.

Tran said he has expressed serious concern over the problem of high brokerage fees since being posted in Taiwan and has even spoken face-to-face with Taiwanese brokers, whom he accused of secretly cooperating with Vietnamese brokers to charge Vietnamese migrant workers excessive fees.

He noted that Vietnam law stipulates that the fees manpower brokers charge to get a migrant worker a job in Taiwan should not exceed US$4,000, but many workers are being charged more than that amount.

That means some of them have to take out loans in their home country, only to find that their wages in Taiwan cannot cover the loan payments, leaving them in a quandary.

"I hope the Taiwanese government can cooperate (with us) to solve the problem," he said, adding that there must be a way for the Taiwanese government to identify these brokers.

Tran said many runaway workers have told him personally that they ran away because they could not afford the high brokerage fees. He has also received calls from migrants who complained that they were sick but the brokers did not help them seek treatment, he said.

Some workers also paid a lot of money to work in Taiwan, but after arriving here, found that they did not have the work they were promised, Tran said.

The envoy stressed, however, that his office does not encourage workers to run away from their jobs because it is dangerous and leaves them without any insurance coverage.

When asked what the Vietnamese government can do about the issue, Tran said his government has asked Vietnamese brokers to follow the rules, and will fine or revoke their licenses if they violate the law.

Since last year, Vietnam officials have also been in talks with officials from Taiwan's Ministry of Labor about a direct hiring system, which would reduce or eliminate brokerage fees, he said.

As of the end of July this year, there are 53,260 runaway workers in Taiwan, with over 48 percent of them Vietnamese workers, according to statistics from the Ministry of Labor.

(By Christie Chen)
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