Body to investigate allegations of forced labor in Cambodia

Airport police have warned Taiwanese traveling to Cambodia and Thailand about human trafficking rings and have stopped 23 people so far

  • By Hsieh Chun-lin, Chu Pei-hsiung and Liu Tzu-hsuan / Staff Reporter, with Staff Author

The Control Yuan has said it will investigate reports that some Taiwanese have been detained, tortured, sexually assaulted and threatened with organ harvesting after taking part-time jobs in Cambodia and Myanmar.

Control Yuan members Yeh Ta-hua (葉大華) and Chi Hui-jung (紀惠容) said Taiwanese could be traded in the two countries.

Local media have reported in recent months that human trafficking rings and recruitment agencies have been posting job ads on social media for positions such as customer service representatives or casino workers in Southeast Asian countries, Yeh said.

Photo: Yao Chieh-hsiu, Taipei Times

Once there, however, the Taiwanese had their personal documents confiscated and forced to work for gangs, she said.

Some were tortured with electric shocks, while others were sexually assaulted and threatened with organ harvesting, she added.

The Control Yuan has received a petition saying young people have been scammed from social services after taking jobs in Cambodia and some have disappeared and the families cannot confirm if they are safe, she said.

Yeh and Chi asked if the authorities knew how many Taiwanese were working abroad under such conditions.

They also asked if the government could provide assistance and if strategies had been put in place to help such victims.

Separately, the Aviation Police Bureau said it interviewed young people checking in for flights to Cambodia and provided information about the suspected human trafficking rings to prevent Taiwanese from falling victim to fraudulent job offers.

However, some criminal rings began urging job seekers to travel to Cambodia via Thailand to evade the bureau’s efforts, it said.

As a result, the bureau assigned officials to check-in counters and gates for flights bound for Bangkok, it added.

The bureau’s security and patrol brigade on Friday advised a person surnamed Chen (陳) against traveling to Cambodia for work via Thailand, the bureau said.

Police have blocked 23 people from boarding planes at Taiwan Taoyuan International Airport to work overseas since July 20, it said, adding that people must research employers before accepting overseas jobs.

Lu Chiu-yuan (呂秋遠), a lawyer who specializes in similar cases, said on Facebook Sunday that 10 human trafficking victims asked for his help.

Among those seeking help is a couple who said their mobile phones and passports were confiscated when they landed in Cambodia last month.

The woman said she was sexually assaulted and was told that if she sought help, she would be beaten and her organs removed, Lu said.

Many victims were forced into prostitution or to work in mines, he said.

Local police often work with the syndicates, and victims who seek help from the police are often sent back to the criminals for punishment, he said.

Taiwan does not have a representative office in Cambodia, so the safest way out of such situations is to pay a ransom, which would require family members to fly there, Lu said.

The Taipei Business and Culture Bureau in Vietnam could help put families in touch with trusted police officers in Cambodia to help with such matters, he added.

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