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Anti-human trafficking efforts earn Tier 1 ranking for 3rd straight year

By Joseph Yeh--Taiwan maintained its Tier 1 ranking in an annual human trafficking report released by the U.S. Department of State Tuesday, the third consecutive year that the country has been given the highest ranking possible in the annual report, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) said yesterday.

Taiwan, along with South Korea, New Zealand and Australia, were the only Asia-Pacific countries to be granted the top ranking in the 2012 Trafficking in Persons Report that classified worldwide governments' counter-human trafficking measures into three-tiers, MOFA said in a released statement.

The result indicated Taiwan's “achievements in preventing and combating human trafficking have been highly recognized by the international community,” it said.

MOFA pledged that Taiwan will continue to enhance its protection of victims of human trafficking and strive to bring perpetrators to justice.

The 2012 report found Taiwan to be mostly a destination country for forced labor victims brought in from Thailand, Vietnam, Indonesia, China, Cambodia, the Philippines, Bangladesh and India.

Some women and girls from China and Southeast Asian countries are lured to Taiwan through fraudulent marriages and deceptive employment offers and forced into prostitution or labor, the report said.

While Taiwan has shown considerable progress in the protection of victims and the punishment of perpetrators, as well as the prevention and education of human trafficking, there is still room for improvement, it noted.

The report suggested local authorities sustain and improve efforts to investigate, prosecute, and convict trafficking offenders using “the anti-trafficking law enacted in June 2009.”

Disgraced Diplomat in Report

Meanwhile, the case of a Taiwanese diplomat who pleaded guilty in the U.S. to labor fraud earlier this year was also highlighted in the report, even though it did not affect the country's overall ranking.

Jacqueline Liu (劉姍姍), former Taiwan representative to Kansas City, pleaded guilty to “subjecting her two domestic workers to conditions of forced labor, including withholding their passports and paying inadequate wages,” the report said.

The 64-year-old diplomat was deported in mid-February after a U.S. court approved a plea agreement that sentenced her to time served following her arrest and detention on Nov. 10, 2011.

Although Liu spent about four months in U.S. custody before being deported to Taiwan, “she has not yet been sentenced (in Taiwan) as the investigation against her in Taiwan remained ongoing as of April 2012,” at the close of the reporting period, it said.

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