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Taiwan: Anti-Human Trafficking Law Drafted

(Nov. 18, 2008) On November 6, 2008, Taiwan's Executive Yuan (Cabinet) approved a draft bill to combat human trafficking. In a press release, Premier Liu Chao-shuian called the bill the “first priority” of the Executive Yuan; the government plans to push for the its passage in the legislature in the near future. If passed, Liu declared, the law “will greatly contribute to the prevention measures the government has adopted to stem trafficking in people,” for “the problem has deeply damaged the image of the country and its human rights record.” (Shih Hsiu-chuan, Cabinet OKs Human Trafficking Bill, TAIPEI TIMES, Nov. 7, 2008, at 4, available at

Taiwan at present lacks a comprehensive anti-trafficking law. Prosecution of crimes involving traffickers has been addressed by provisions in the Criminal Code such as articles 296 and 296-1, on slavery and on sale of persons for sex or indecent acts. The Labor Standards Law and the Employment Service Act also contain some relevant provisions. (Id.) Effective August 1, 2008, the Immigration Law was amended to include a special chapter [number seven] on “Trans National (Border) Human Trafficking Prevention and Control and Protection of Victims,” but the chapter has only four articles and the statutory scope remains incomplete. (Immigration Law (in Chinese), National Immigration Agency (NIA) website, Aug. 11, 2008, available at; Executive Yuan Approves Draft of 'Human Trafficking Prevention and Control Law' Increased Criminal Liability for Harboring by Public Officials [in Chinese], NOWNEWS, Nov. 6, 2008, available at Even more recently, on November 6, 2008, the NIA issued a set of measures targeted against cross-border human trafficking (Measures on Transnational Border Human Trafficking Prevention and Control and Protection of Victims (in Chinese), NIA website, Nov. 7, 2008, available at

The new Executive Yuanbill includes a definition of human trafficking and provisions on “the functions and powers of agencies of the central and local governments in dealing with trafficking, shelters and other protective measures for victims, as well as punishments for traffickers” (Shih Hsiu-chuan, supra). The bill imposes a ten-year term of imprisonment and a fine of NT$10 million (about US$305,000) on traffickers convicted of forcing victims to engage in prostitution; public officials who harbor traffickers would face a criminal punishment increased by up to one-half. If the bill is adopted by the legislature, the government would be required to establish relocation centers for trafficking victims. The permissible period for foreign victims to stay in Taiwan, moreover, would not be subject to the 60-day maximum overstay period granted to illegal immigrants under the Immigration Law. (Id.)

In the U.S. Department of State's (DOS) Trafficking in Persons Report 2008, Taiwan is characterized as both a destination jurisdiction – for women and girls trafficked mostly from mainland China but also from Vietnam, Thailand, Indonesia, and the Philippines – and a source jurisdiction – of Taiwan women bound for Australia, Japan, the United Kingdom, and the United States, for purposes of forced labor and sexual exploitation. (U.S. DOS Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons, Country Narratives – Countries S Through Z: TAIWAN, TRAFFICKING IN PERSONS REPORT 2008 (June 4, 2008), available at The ninth round of the “Executive Yuan Coordinating Anti-Human Trafficking Meeting,” convened on August 4, 2008, approved Explanations of Taiwan's Response to the 2008 DOS report. Among the major points of this document were:

1) the Executive Yuan had decreed that the amended Immigration Act would go into effect from August 1, 2008;

2) the Human Trafficking Prevention Act had been drafted and the MOI would work to reconcile the government and civil group versions of the Act;

3) the Council of Labor Affairs “will continuously examine the applicability of the Labor Standard Law to domestic helpers and relevant complementary measures”

4) the Ministry of Transportation and Communications will strengthen an education campaign directed at outgoing and incoming travelers “not to engage in child sex tourism while they are at home or abroad” and

5) the Program of Database Establishment for Interpreters, under the purview of the NIA, “should integrate the existing databases of related authorities” such as the MOI's National Police Agency and the Council of Labor Affairs. The database should be regularly updated and “is expected to be fully established prior to the end of 2008.”

(Press Release, NIA of the MOI, News Release of the 9th Round of the “Executive Yuan Coordinating Anti-Human Trafficking Meeting” (in English) (Aug. 29, 2008), available at