From October 1st-6th, Arise’s Director, Luke de Pulford, and trustee Lord Alton of Liverpool visited Taiwan at the invitation of the Taiwanese Government.
Of the estimated 40 million modern slavery victims, 25 million - or nearly two thirds - are thought to be in Asia and the Pacific. Sex trafficking and labour abuses are rife, especially within Taiwan's neighbouring countries like the Philippines. Though no country is immune from human trafficking, Taiwan is notably less affected than other countries in the region. For ten years in a row, the US State Department has consistently awarded Taiwan a tier one rating for their response to the problem. Against a background of increasing authoritarianism in mainland China and disturbing reports of the scale and nature of human trafficking and modern slavery involving Uighurs, Falun Gong practitioners, and more recently, Christian and Hindu women and girls from Pakistan, Taiwan’s record is remarkable and praiseworthy.
Arise believes that Taiwan is of strategic importance to the anti-slavery movement in Southeast Asia. Given that some of the world’s worst-affected trafficking hotspots are on its doorstep, the Taiwanese Government has an opportunity to help others in the region, and we were encouraged to discover that various programs were being developed to that end.
Mr. Bill Chung, Deputy Director General of the National Immigration Agency (with responsibility for human trafficking issues) and Luke de Pulford
In Taiwan, responsibility for the issue of human trafficking falls to Mr. Bill Chung of the National Immigration Agency. Mr. Chung said that 700,000 foreign nationals - primarily from Indonesia, Vietnam and the Philippines - are working in Taiwan. His team then spent some time in detailed discussions with Arise about ethical recruitment models to protect workers on arrival and throughout their time in Taiwan.
While in Taipei, Luke and Lord Alton held meetings with the Foreign Minister, Dr. Jaushieh Wu; Dr.Ming-yen Tsai of the National Security Council; the Archbishop of Taipei, the Rt. Revd John Shan-Chuan Hung; the Taiwan Foundation for Democracy and Human Rights, Garden of Hope and others.
Lord Alton with Foreign Minister Wu
There have already been some encouraging outcomes from the visit. During the meeting with Arise, Dr. Tsai agreed to include modern day slavery as a benchmark issue in its Global Co-operation Training Programme, and reaffirmed their commitment to leveraging technology to prevent online sexual exploitation of children in the region.
Most encouragingly for Arise’s vision, and in light of the emerging research consensus, underlined by this Freedom Fund report, Taiwan is continuing to focus its efforts on civil society initiatives, recognising that these partnerships are key to stopping slavery.
During the visit, Luke and Lord Alton both spoke at Taipei's Fu Jen University - offering an opportunity to tell an audience of academics and students about modern slavery and the connectivity between the human rights abuses associated with human trafficking and other fundamental freedoms. Where pluralism, freedom and democracy are respected in line with Articles 18 and 19 of the Universal Declaration, fewer will be exploited.
Luke de Pulford addresses an audience at Fu Jen University
While so many surrounding countries labour under authoritarian rule, human rights organisations should not fail to speak out in praise of countries which defend freedom and human rights. Arise looks forward to working closely with Taiwan as it steps up efforts to confront the crimes of human trafficking and modern slavery in the region.