International Criminology World

World : Asia : Taiwan
 
Taiwan

Taiwan's aboriginal peoples, who originated in Austronesia and southern China, have lived on Taiwan for 12,000 to 15,000 years. Significant migration to Taiwan from the Chinese mainland began as early as A.D. 500. Dutch traders first claimed the island in 1624 as a base for Dutch commerce with Japan and the China coast. Two years later, the Spanish established a settlement on the northwest coast of Taiwan which they occupied until 1642 when they were driven out by the Dutch. Dutch colonists administered the island and its predominantly aboriginal population until 1661. The first major influx of migrants from the Chinese mainland came during the Dutch period, sparked by the political and economic chaos on the China coast during the Manchu invasion and the end of the Ming Dynasty. In 1664, a Chinese fleet led by the Ming loyalist Cheng Ch'eng-kung (Zheng Chenggong, known in the West as Koxinga) retreated from the mainland and occupied Taiwan. Cheng expelled the Dutch and established Taiwan as a base in his attempt to restore the Ming Dynasty. He died shortly thereafter, and in 1683 his successors submitted to Manchu (Qing Dynasty) control. From 1680 the Qing Dynasty ruled Taiwan as a prefecture and in 1875 divided the island into two prefectures, north and south. In 1887 the island was made into a separate Chinese province.

During the 18th and 19th centuries, migration from Fujian and Guangdong provinces steadily increased, and Chinese supplanted aborigines as the dominant population group. In 1895, a weakened Imperial China ceded Taiwan to Japan in the Treaty of Shimonoseki following the first Sino-Japanese war. During its 50 years (1895-1945) of colonial rule, Japan expended considerable effort in developing Taiwan's economy. At the same time, Japanese rule led to the "Japanization" of the island including compulsory Japanese education and forcing residents of Taiwan to adopt Japanese names.

At the end of World War II in 1945, Taiwan reverted to Chinese rule. From the 1930s onward a civil war had been underway on the mainland between Chiang Kai-shek's KMT government and the Chinese Communist Party led by Mao Zedong. When the civil war ended in 1949, 2 million refugees, predominately from the nationalist government, military, and business community, fled to Taiwan. In October 1949 the People's Republic of China (P.R.C.) was founded on the mainland by the victorious communists, several months before Chiang Kai-shek had established in December 1949 a "provisional" KMT capital in Taipei. During the immediate postwar period, the Nationalist Chinese (KMT) administration on Taiwan was repressive and corrupt, leading to local discontent. Anti-mainlander violence flared on February 28, 1947, prompted by an incident in which a cigarette seller was injured and a passerby was shot to death by Nationalist authorities. The island-wide rioting was brutally put down by Nationalist Chinese troops, who killed thousands of people. As a result of the February 28 Incident, the native Taiwanese felt a deep-seated bitterness to the mainlanders. Until 1995, the KMT authorities suppressed accounts of this episode in Taiwan history. In 1995 a monument was dedicated to the victims of the "2-28 Incident," and for the first time Taiwan's leader, President Lee Teng-hui, publicly apologized for the Nationalists' brutality.

During the 1950s, the KMT authorities implemented a far-reaching and highly successful land reform program on Taiwan. They redistributed land among small farmers and compensated large landowners with commodities certificates and stock in state-owned industries. Although this left some large landowners impoverished, others turned their compensation into capital and started commercial and industrial enterprises. These entrepreneurs were to become Taiwan's first industrial capitalists. Together with refugee businessmen from the mainland, they managed Taiwan's transition from an agricultural to a commercial, industrial economy. Taiwan has developed steadily into a major international trading power with more than $218 billion in two-way trade. Tremendous prosperity on the island was accompanied by economic and social stability. Chiang Kai-shek's successor, his son Chiang Ching-kuo, began to liberalize Taiwan's political system, a process that has continued when President Lee Teng-hui took office in 1988. The direct election of Lee Teng-hui as president in 1996 was followed by opposition Democratic Progressive Party candidate Chen Shui-bian's election victory in March 2000.

Today, Taiwan is a multiparty democracy. The 2000 victory of Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) presidential candidate Chen Shui-bian followed more than 50 years of rule by the Kuomintang (KMT) and marked the first transition from one political party to another in Taiwan's history. The president appoints the premier, who heads the Executive Yuan (EY), or Cabinet. Constitutional amendments adopted in 1997 provided the Legislative Yuan (LY) with the authority to dismiss the Cabinet with a no-confidence vote. In December the DPP won a plurality of seats in the LY in free and fair elections. In addition to the DPP, the KMT, the People First Party, and the Taiwan Solidarity Union play significant roles in the LY. The Judicial Yuan (JY) is constitutionally independent of the other branches of the political system, and the Government respects the judiciary's independence in practice.

CRIMINAL CODES

Crimes are primarily determined by the criminal law. There are many types of crimes such as murder, manslaughter, forcible rape, robbery, aggravated assault, burglary, larceny theft, arson, embezzlement, and

fraud. According to Crime and Analysis, published annually by the Ministry of Justice, crimes can be

divided into two major categories: 1) property crimes such as theft, fraud, embezzlement; and 2) violent crimes such as homicide, assault, robbery, intimidation.

INCIDENCE OF CRIME

Taiwan does not report crime data either to the United Nations or INTERPOL. However, 1991 data has been compiled from information provided by the Ministry of Interior of Taiwan from information gathered by the Criminal Investigation Bureau of the National Police Administration on three crimes - homicide, theft, and drug offenses. There were 949 convicted homicides in 1991 for a rate of 0.43 per 100,000 population. There were 10,137 convicted theft offenses in 1991 for a rate of 4.52 per 100,000 population. There were 11,685 convicted drug offenses in 1991 for a rate of 5.26 per 100,000 population. Thus, the crime rate in Taiwan remains relatively low. No data are available for the remaining UCR Index crimes, and trend calculations cannot be made.

 

LEGAL SYSTEM

The Republic of China employs an adversarial legal system with a prosecutor representing the plaintiff and a defense attorney representing the defendant. The Judge has the ultimate power to make a final decision on sentencing affairs. In addition to the civilian legal system a military justice system also exists but on a much smaller scale. Taiwan's criminal justice system has its roots in Continental law but the spirit of common law has been inserted into the system. The criminal justice system is not much different from the Western system of justice that is comprised of police, prosecutions, courts and correction.

POLICE

Taiwan has a unified or centralized police system that is very different from the United State's localized or decentralized police system. The National Police Administration (NPA) of the Ministry of Interior (MOI), the NPA's Criminal Investigation Bureau, and the Ministry of Justice (MOJ) Investigation Bureau are responsible for law enforcement relating to internal security. The police and security agencies are under effective civilian control.

The police functions in Taiwan are clearly defined in the Police Act as follows: 1) to maintain public order, 2) to protect social security, 3) to prevent all dangers, and 4) to promote the welfare of all people. The police are responsible for enforcing the law and maintaining public order but are also responsible for crime prevention and the protection of the lives and property of others. They are also assigned particular duties which are not practiced in many countries. These include, 1) management of exit from and entry into Taiwan; the police handle immigrations affairs, 2) civil defense and disaster rescue, 3) fire prevention and fire fighting, 4) order maintenance and riot control, 5) assistance for other government affairs whenever necessary. Due to the perception of an external security threat almost any crime, but especially violent crime, is seen by the public as a threat to internal security or solidarity and therefore should be suppressed or cleared as soon as possible. The police clearance rates are therefore rather high. A beat system of community policing and an informers network used by police detectives contribute to the high police efficiency.

There were 75,517 police officers in 1990. There were 20,025 directly under the jurisdiction of the National police administration; 12,277 under the jurisdiction of Taipei and Kaoshong City; and 43,215 under the jurisdiction of Taiwan Province.

The training for the police officer requires at least 1 to 2 years. For senior officers that are above the sub-lieutenant level, 2 to 4 years of professional training at the Central Police College is required. Recruits must pass a written exam and physical fitness test. There are also age, health, and height requirements.

According to the Law Regulating the Use of Police Arms, conditions under which deadly force may be employed include: 1) In the avoidance of an extreme incident and in keeping the social peace. 2) To control disturbances or riots that could cause harmful effects on the social order. 3) To prevent the escape and the resistance of the convicted offender. 4) To prevent the suspect from endangering the full enforcement of police duty, and/or when knowing the suspect may pose a risk of physical harm to others. 5) To prevent imminent physical danger to police requiring the use of deadly force. 6) To stop a suspect who is carrying weapons and attempting to hurt others and who has not followed a police order to stop. According to Criminal Procedure Law, a stop/apprehension can be conducted without warrant under the following circumstances: 1) The suspect is identified as the perpetrator by eyewitnesses. 2) The convicted criminal is attempting to escape. 3) When the officer knows the person committed the crime and he/she refuses to be frisked by the police. 4) When arresting a suspect who has committed a crime which carries a possible death sentence or at least five years in prison. Police must obtain search warrants from a prosecutor in order to search or seize property or persons. A search may be conducted without a warrant when it is known that the suspect committed the crime.

Although the Constitution does not directly address the questions of torture and punishment, the Code of Criminal Procedure stipulates that no violence, threat, inducement, fraud, or other improper means shall be used against accused persons; however, there have been credible reports that police occasionally physically abuse persons in their custody. The law allows suspects to have attorneys present during interrogations, primarily to ensure that abuse does not take place. Under NPA regulations, suspects may not be questioned at night and, whenever possible, interrogations must be audiotaped or videotaped. The MOJ claims that each interrogation is recorded and that any allegation of mistreatment is investigated. Nonetheless lawyers and legal scholars note that abuses most often occur in local police stations where interrogations are not recorded and when attorneys often are not present. Informed observers note that police emphasize confessions by suspects as the principal investigative tool. Law enforcement agencies remain weak in scientific investigative skills; however, the NPA continued to make efforts to improve its investigative skills, upgrading its crime laboratory technology and training crime scene examiners. International observers also have noted that the judicial system sometimes has accepted confessions even when they contradict available physical evidence or logic. The NPA denies that police abuse suspects. It asserts that regulations forbid such abuse and that police who abuse suspects are punished. Nevertheless there are credible reports that the physical abuse or the threat of abuse of prisoners is a recurring investigative technique. Detainees who are abused physically have the right to sue the police for torture, and confessions shown to have been obtained through torture are inadmissible in court proceedings.

The Constitution and the Criminal and Civil Codes contain provisions protecting privacy. In January 2000, the LY amended the Code of Criminal Procedure to require prosecutors to obtain judicial approval of search warrants, except when "incidental to arrest" or when there are concerns that evidence may be destroyed. However, critics claim that the incidental to arrest provision is not only unconstitutional but also often interpreted broadly by police to justify searches of locations other than actual arrest sites.

According to the NPA, warrantless searches are allowed only in special circumstances, such as to arrest an escapee or if facts indicate a person is in the process of committing a crime. In any such case, the police must file a report with the prosecutor or court within 24 hours. A policeman who carries out an illegal search may be sued for illegal entry and sentenced to up to 1 year in prison. Few defendants or their spouses have filed charges against policemen found to have obtained evidence illegally. Furthermore, illegally obtained evidence is not excluded automatically from consideration by the court; instead, its admission is left to the discretion of the judge. Increasingly judges are excluding illegally obtained evidence, although in the past such evidence was admitted and frequently provided the basis for conviction.

In December 2000 the Council of Grand Justices ruled that the Police Administration Law (PAL), which had been used to give police wide discretion in searching persons in public places and stopping vehicles for inspections, did not entitle police to make such searches unless a clear risk to public safety had been established. Noting that such searches could infringe on freedom of movement, privacy, and the right to property, the CGJ instructed the police to revise the PAL in accordance with its ruling immediately.

Although the MOJ and the police continue to use wiretapping as an investigative tool, unauthorized wiretapping has become less of a problem following passage in 1999 of the Telecommunications Protection and Control Law, which imposed severe penalties for unauthorized wiretapping. The Telecommunication Law and Code of Criminal Procedure provide that judicial and security authorities may file a written request to a prosecutor's office to monitor telephone calls to collect evidence against a suspect involved in a major crime. The Ministry of Justice maintains that there are fewer applications for wiretaps under the law because of the tighter regulations in force. A total of 6,505 wiretaps were approved from January through the end of November compared with more than 15,000 wiretaps in 1999, the year before the law went into effect. The law also regulates wiretapping by the intelligence services.

DETENTION

The law prohibits arbitrary arrest and detention, and the authorities generally observe this prohibition. Police legally may arrest without a warrant anyone they suspect of committing a crime for which the punishment would be imprisonment of 5 years or more, when there is ample reason to believe the person may flee. Police may question persons without a formal summons when circumstances are too urgent to report to a public prosecutor. However, immediately after detaining a suspect the authorities must apply to a prosecutor for a warrant to detain the arrestee for up to 24 hours and must give written notice to the detainee or a designated relative or friend, stating the reason for the arrest or questioning. Indicted persons may be released on bail at judicial discretion. In 2000 the NPA ordered all police stations to prohibit the media from photographing persons under detention and to cease providing the names of detainees to the media. In May and August, the MOJ and the NPA strengthened efforts to prevent disclosure of information on detainees to the media; this reduced somewhat the unauthorized release of information.

Under the law prosecutors must apply to the courts within 24 hours after arrest for permission to continue detaining an arrestee. The duration of this pretrial detention is limited to 2 months, and the courts may approve a single extension of 2 months. Limits also apply for detention during trial. If a crime is punishable by less than 10 years' imprisonment, then no more than 3 extensions of 2 months each may be granted during the trial and appellate proceedings. During the second appeal, only one extension may be granted. The authorities generally observe these procedures, and trials usually take place within 3 months of indictment.

The Code of Criminal Procedure requires the police to inform a suspect during an interrogation of the specific charges in question, the right to remain silent, the right to counsel, and the right to ask the police to investigate evidence that would be favorable to the suspect. If the charges are amended subsequently, the police must inform the suspect. The authorities generally respect a detainee's request to have a lawyer present during the investigation phase, but defense lawyers and human rights groups continue to complain that the rules do not provide adequate protection since suspects often do not have legal representation during police interrogation. A contributing factor is that there is no legal requirement that indigent persons be provided counsel during police interrogation, although such counsel is provided during trials. Informed observers report that the "public defense counsels" do not provide effective defense assistance. They typically do not appear until the final argument of the trial, and they seldom spend a significant amount of time discussing the case with their clients.

COURTS

From investigatory to sentencing stages, the accused has the right to counsel, to resist illegal arrest, to resist illegal search and seizure, and the right to appeal to higher courts. The accused can ask for a defense lawyer at any stage of the process and a public defender will be assigned if the suspect is indigent. The prosecutor is the criminal investigative agency with the power to bring cases into court. The R.O.C. uses an inquisitorial justice system which presumes that prosecutors should prosecute all crimes that are known or reported to him.

Prosecutors are appointed and promoted by the government. There is no plea-bargaining by the prosecutor's office or by any other actor in the system. However, the prosecutors are granted certain discretionary powers that allow them to release some offenders, usually those who have committed a minor offense, without prosecution. In recent years the government has initiated a lenient penal policy towards offenders due to the heavy caseload in prosecutor's offices. Prosecutors, based on certain guidelines and within their discretionary power, are required to release as many offenders as possible. Those eligible are offenders who have committed misdemeanors and are first-time or accidental criminals that are at a low risk of recidivating as well as those who are sick and not suitable for penal punishment.

According to statistics released by the Ministry of Justice, the proportion of those released without prosecution is about 20 percent yearly. The conviction rate of those that go to trial is more than 90 percent.

The Republic of China's courts system is divided into three levels: district court, higher court and Supreme Court. Judges are appointed for life and are protected by the Constitution so as to make independent decisions without outside interference.

Judges are appointed and promoted by the government. They have to pass very competitive bar examinations and take one and a half years of practical training in order to be considered qualified. The judges of the Supreme Court serve 9-year terms. At the end of each term a newly selected judge is appointed by the President. A judge that is currently serving can be appointed again and all appointments are subject to the approval of the National Assembly. The judge makes the final decision on criminal sentencing affairs. The report profiles the offender's criminal, personal, and professional history and includes the judge's evaluation and sentence decision for the offender. Sentencing hearings are generally offered for every suspect. There is no jury in Taiwan's system.

The range of typical penalties in use is: fines, probation, general prison terms, life sentence, and the death penalty. There is a relative indeterminate sentencing system; the legislature sets up the type and range of sentence, within which the judge can make the decision. The percentage of convicted offenders sentenced to probation increased from 3.12 in 1982 to 12.06 in 1986. The death penalty exists in Taiwan. Recent polls show that 78% of citizens still favor the death penalty. Methods of execution in the system include: lethal gas, lethal injection, and firing squad.

The Constitution provides for an independent judiciary; and the Government generally respects this provision in practice. While corruption and political influence were serious problems, in recent years the Government made efforts to eliminate corruption and to diminish political influence. Some dissatisfaction with judicial performance remained, including complaints of corruption.

In recent years, the Judicial Yuan (JY) has taken several measures to reduce political influence on judges. An independent committee using secret ballots decides judicial appointments and promotions. Judicial decisions no longer are subject to review by presiding judges, except in the case of decisions by "assistant judges." The judges themselves decide upon distribution of cases. Finally, judges and the President of the JY are prohibited from taking part in political activities. The Government's anticorruption campaign also has reinforced the JY's efforts to eliminate judicial corruption. The JY's anticorruption department increased efforts to uncover possible corruption cases during the year and is more responsive to public complaints regarding judicial personnel. Measures from the 1999 National Judicial Reform Conference strengthened the supervision and evaluation of judge's performance. Although the LY has yet to enact the JY President's proposed code of judicial conduct, the proposals have resulted in revised precepts for evaluation of judicial performance, and strengthened reviews of judge's financial disclosure reports. In March 2000, the JY initiated a human rights course in its judicial training program. These factors have reduced the incidence of judicial misconduct; however, there continue to be complaints of corruption on the part of individual judges. In 2000 a judge in Tainan was arrested on suspicion of running a brothel since 1998 and using his position to protect the business from police scrutiny. The judge has been suspended, and the case still is pending.

The JY is one of the five coequal branches of the political system. The JY is headed by a president and a vice president and also contains the 16-member Council of Grand Justices (CGJ), which interprets the Constitution as well as laws and ordinances. Subordinate JY organs include the Supreme Court, high courts, district courts, the Administrative Court, and the Committee on the Discipline of Public Functionaries. The Administrative Court also provides for judicial review.

The law provides for the right of fair public trial, and this generally is respected in practice. Judges, rather than juries, decide cases; all judges are appointed by, and are responsible to, the JY. In a typical court case, parties and witnesses are interrogated by a single judge but not directly by a defense attorney or prosecutor. The judge may decline to hear witnesses or to consider evidence that a party wishes to submit if the judge considers it irrelevant; a refusal to hear evidence may be a factor in an appeal. Trials are public, but attendance at trials involving juveniles or potentially sensitive issues that might attract crowds may require court permission.

A defendant has the right to an attorney. If the defendant is charged with committing a crime for which the penalty is 3 or more years' imprisonment or if the defendant is indigent, the judge may assign an attorney. Attorneys assigned to defendants generally assist once an indictment has been filed and at trial, but while allowed by law usually are not present during police interrogations. Informed observers report that public defense counsels do not provide effective defense assistance. The law states that a suspect may not be compelled to testify. The Code of Criminal Procedure states that a confession shall not be the sole evidence used to find a defendant guilty. Nonetheless informed observers note that convictions frequently result from a combination of a confession and circumstantial evidence of varying quality. However, in April 2000, a Taipei district court judge acquitted a defendant of theft charges on the grounds that his confession was made involuntarily. Any convicted person has the right to appeal to the next higher court level. Persons sentenced to terms of imprisonment of 3 years or more may appeal beyond that level. The Supreme Court automatically reviews life imprisonment and death sentences. Under the law, prosecutors have the right to appeal verdicts of not guilty to the next higher court level.

In March 2000, the Council of Grand Justices declared the 1985 Antihoodlum Law to be unconstitutional. The law, which had departed from international standards of due process, may no longer be used to sentence "hoodlums" to reformatory education.

In June 2000, the Taipei District Court adopted the new trial system already in use in the Shilin District Court in Taipei city and in the Miaoli county courts. The new modified adversarial trial system is a potential model for the rest of the judicial system. It was implemented in response to the JY President's 1999 judicial reform proposals and is intended to better protect the rights of the accused.

 

CORRECTIONS

There were 19 correctional institutions in 1990: 4 prison camps, 2 drug treatment institutions, 1 juvenile prison, 12 prisons of both maximum and medium security. The total capacity for corrections was 21,923 in 1990 with 21,130 beds for males and 793 beds for females. The inmate population was 34,770 on July 31, 1992 with 32,614 male prisoners and 2,156 female prisoners. The number of incarcerated inmates increased from 10,241 in 1977 to 25,641 in 1986, to 34,770 in 1992. That is a 300% increase in 15 years.

There were 20,833 (male, 19,448; female, 1,345) admissions into correctional institutions in 1991. According to crime type, in 1991 there were 4,081 annual admissions for drug crimes (19.6%), 5,949 admissions for violent crimes (28.6%), 7,905 admissions for property crimes (37.9%), and 2,898 admissions for other crimes (13.9%).

In the correctional institution the warden is ultimately responsible for the operation of the prison. Wardens are appointed by the Minister of Justice. As a result, the warden does not have considerable power to develop prison policy, but must rely on orders generally from the Ministry of Justice through the Department of Corrections.

The estimated number of correctional officers in all correctional institutions as of June 1992 was 2,977. Correctional officers are required to be at least 22 years old and have a basic high school diploma. They must be in good physical condition and have committed no crimes. Rank and file correctional officers are required to go through 5 months of training before formally performing their duty.

As a means of reducing prison overcrowding and rehabilitating inmates, prison officials have relaxed the parole criteria. Inmates who have served one-third of their sentences and life prisoners who have served 10 years of imprisonment are eligible for parole. Statistics have shown that approximately 90% of those who apply for parole can get it and parole accounts for about 20% of those who are released from prisons.

Counseling, job-skill training, make-up education and prison industry are all provided but are not mandatory. Community-based treatment is just beginning. College students voluntarily participate in juvenile reform and many Citizen Voluntary Probation Associations have been established across the country. They provide necessary assistance to those who are under parole or probation. There is also the After-Care Foundation which has financed several job training centers and factories. These allow ex-convicts to stay for short periods of time before they reenter the society.

In year 2000, prison conditions generally met international standards; however, overcrowding at the then 49 prisons and overly long stays at the detention centers for illegal aliens remained problems, although the authorities have begun to address this latter problem. Despite an increase in facilities in recent years, in August 2000 the number of inmates detained exceeded capacity by 4,940 or 9.6 percent.

 

WOMEN

Violence against women, including domestic violence and rape, remains a serious problem. Domestic violence is especially widespread. The authorities fund domestic violence hot lines, which also handle calls for assistance from victims of sexual assault and child abuse. From January to July 2000, the hot line received 52,000 calls. The Ministry of Justice continued to take steps to strengthen the protection of women and children against violence in accordance with the 1999 Domestic Violence and Protection Control Law. The law allows prosecutors to take the initiative in investigating complaints of domestic violence without waiting for a spouse to file a formal lawsuit. Although some cases are prosecuted, strong social pressure discourages abused women from reporting incidents to the police in order to avoid disgracing their families. Rape also remains a serious problem, and its victims are stigmatized socially. One expert estimates that 7,000 rapes occur annually--10 times the number reported to the police. In 1999 the LY passed legislation that permits the prosecution of the crime of rape without requiring the victim to press charges. Under the law, rape trials are not public unless the victim consents. The Code of Criminal Procedure establishes the punishment for rape as not less than 5 years' imprisonment, and those convicted usually are sentenced to from 5 to 10 years in prison. There were 2,042 cases of rape or sexual assault reported in 1999, the most recent year for which statistics are available. Spousal rape is a crime. In February 2000, the Ministry of Interior adopted a new procedure under which doctors, social workers, police, and prosecutors jointly question victims of sexual abuse in order to reduce the number of times a victim is questioned. From January to November, 1,978 persons were indicted for rape or sexual assault and 1,110 were convicted.

Prostitution, including child prostitution, also is a problem; there have been no reports of women being coerced into prostitution during the year 2000. The authorities are phasing out legalized prostitution; in 1999 the LY banned prostitution, but exempted 23 brothels and 119 prostitutes already registered with the authorities. Under the law, no new houses of prostitution may be registered. There have been reports of a growing trend of young women, often well educated, entering into part-time prostitution to earn additional spending money. There also are credible reports of a small number of women being trafficked onto the island for purposes of prostitution, and reports of a larger number of women who enter for purposes of engaging in prostitution.

CHILDREN

Child abuse is a significant problem. In 2000 according to MOI statistics, there were 5,211 cases of child abuse. The 1999 Domestic Violence Control Law established a Domestic Violence Protection Center, which provides for protection against child abuse. Under the law any persons discovering cases of child abuse or neglect must notify the police, social welfare, or child welfare authorities; child welfare specialists must make such notification within 24 hours; and the authorities involved must issue an investigation report within 24 hours. Both the Ministry of Interior's Social Affairs Department and nongovernmental specialists assert that these requirements are followed. In 2000 a senior member of a Buddhist academy was charged with sexually assaulting several novice monks who were children; at year's end the case was still pending. A Child Welfare Bureau to enhance efforts to protect child welfare exists in the MOI. Financial subsidies are provided to low-income families with children in day care facilities and to local governments to promote child protection efforts. In 2000 the MOI assisted city and county governments in establishing 10 daycare facilities and 18 child protection centers, accommodating more than 1,400 children and investigating over 1,300 cases. The MOI also coordinates the efforts of city and county governments and NGO's in protecting aboriginal children. During 2000 more than 8,000 children who had dropped out of school were helped to return to school. In January a hot line was established to accept complaints of child abuse and offer counseling. Courts are authorized to appoint guardians for children who have either lost their parents or whose parents are deemed unfit.

In 1999 the first juvenile court was established in Kaohsiung to handle criminal cases. Previously regular courts handled such cases. The court includes 24 juvenile counselors, and is believed to have been effective in dealing with juvenile criminal cases. There are three juvenile detention centers on the island.

Although no reliable statistics are available, child prostitution is a serious problem, particularly among aboriginal children. Most child prostitutes range from 12 to 17 years of age. The juvenile welfare law enables juvenile welfare bodies, prosecutors, and victims to apply to courts for termination of guardianship of parents and the appointment of qualified guardians if parents have forced their children into prostitution. If children are engaged in prostitution of their "own free will," and the parents are incapable of providing safe custody, the courts may order competent authorities to provide counseling for not less than 6 months and not more than 2 years. However, legal loopholes and cultural barriers remain obstacles to enforcement. According to well-informed observers, the practice of aboriginal families selling their children into prostitution no longer exists.

According to some reports, brothel owners, to prevent child prostitutes from escaping, use violence, drug addiction, and other forms of coercion. The law provides for up to 2 years' incarceration for customers of prostitutes under the age of 18. The law also requires the publication of the names of violators in newspapers. Between January and November 2000, the names of 29 persons convicted of patronizing child prostitutes were published. Under a plan adopted by the NPA, city and county authorities across the island have established police task forces to strengthen their efforts against child prostitution. In 2000 the police conducted 830 raids and rescued 633 child prostitutes. During the first 7 months of the year, 429 persons were arrested for violations of the law, resulting in 292 convictions. The law prohibits the media from running advertisements involving the sex trade and imposes penalties on citizens arrested abroad for having sex with minors.

TRAFFICKING IN PEOPLE

The Statute for the Prevention of Child and Juvenile Sexual Trafficking empowers the authorities to prosecute any person who forces a child below the age of 18 to engage in sex or sells or pawns such a child by other means. Provisions in the Criminal Code could be used to prosecute traffickers in persons above the age of 18. Trafficking in persons is a problem.

The island remained a significant transit point and, to a lesser extent, a destination for trafficked persons. There were reports of organized crime rings trafficking in a small number of women for purpose of prostitution. The majority of cases involve women from mainland China, Thailand, or Cambodia. Criminal gangs in mainland China reportedly use deceptive measures to recruit and procure young women who were then trafficked to Taiwan-based organized crime gangs who arranged sham marriages to enable them to obtain visas to enter Taiwan, and exploited them for purposes of prostitution. Many of the victims were aware that they were to work as prostitutes, but were deceived by the traffickers about what their pay and working and living conditions would be upon arrival. Once in Taiwan, they were kept isolated, their passports held, and they were threatened with violence if they did not cooperate. Small numbers of young Malaysian women, primarily ethnic Chinese, were trafficked to Taiwan for sexual exploitation. Burmese and Indonesians also were trafficked to Taiwan. The authorities, academic experts, and NGO experts claim that the number of trafficking victims has decreased significantly in the past few years. The authorities reportedly prosecuted eight trafficking cases during 2000.

Taiwan remains a significant transit point for persons from mainland China attempting to travel illegally to the United States and other countries. Some of these illegal migrants become trafficking victims in the destination countries. In 1999 the LY enacted legislation which criminalized alien smuggling.

Police are trained in handling trafficking, prostitution, and cases of domestic violence. The Government works with NGO's to provide counseling and medical assistance to victims as needed. Foreign victims of trafficking were repatriated as quickly as possible.

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS

Contributed by Rachel Sandelman

 

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