Taipei, June 20 (CNA) Taiwan maintained its Tier 1 ranking in the latest human trafficking report published by the U.S. Department of State, the fourth year in a row that the country has been given the highest ranking.
Taiwan's Tier 1 listing indicates that its "achievements in preventing and combating human trafficking have been highly recognized by the international community," the Ministry of Foreign Affairs said in a statement Thursday, a day after the release of the report.
The rankings of countries in the " Trafficking in Persons Report 2013" are classified into three tiers based on the respective governments' counter-human trafficking measures.
Taiwan was one of only two East Asian countries, along with South Korea, to be given a Tier 1 ranking.
According to the report, most trafficking victims in Taiwan are migrant workers from Vietnam, Thailand, Indonesia, China, Cambodia, the Philippines, Bangladesh and India, employed through recruitment agencies and brokers to work in the manufacturing, construction and fishing industries, and as home caregivers and domestic workers.
The report cites a recent case of alleged abuse of Indonesian, Chinese and Myanmarese crewmen on a Taiwan-flagged fishing vessel.
The Taiwanese authorities "initiated an investigation of the owners and operators of the vessel, the Chin Zue Yin, which was found off the coast of Hawaii, for physical abuse and salary disputes onboard," and "the investigation was ongoing at the end of the reporting year," the report says.
The report also points out that some women and girls from China and Southeast Asia "are lured to Taiwan through fraudulent marriages and deceptive employment offers for purposes of sex trafficking and forced labor."
Another problem in Taiwan is that some employers of foreign domestic workers and home caregivers forbid their employees to leave their residences, thus making them unable to seek help, the report says, adding that this could indicate that they are at risk of being subjected to forced labor.
Although the Taiwanese authorities continue with their strong anti-trafficking law enforcement efforts, the report suggests that the country "improve (its) efforts to investigate, prosecute and convict trafficking offenders using the anti-trafficking law" enacted in 2009.
It also recommends that the Taiwanese authorities "investigate and prosecute the owners of Taiwan-owned or -flagged fishing vessels who allegedly commit abuse and labor trafficking onboard long haul fishing vessels," as well as "increase efforts to reduce exploitation of migrant workers by brokerage agencies and employers."
In 2012, Taiwan identified 462 trafficking victims, of which 152 were victims of labor trafficking and 310 of sex trafficking, most of them Indonesian and Vietnamese, the report says, all 462 of whom were referred to care facilities for assistance.
(By Elaine Hou)ENDITEM/J