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Filipino fishermen in Taiwan wants their condition to be seen as form of human trafficking

A group of Taiwan-based Filipino fishermen who have been allegedly exploited with long working hours and excessive deductions from their salaries on Wednesday urged for their cases to be seen as human trafficking.

The six fishermen, formally based in New Taipei City's Shen'ao Fishing Port, made their plea outside the annual International Workshop on Combating Human Trafficking, which is jointly organized in Taipei by the National Immigration Agency and other government agencies.

The fishermen have been fired ever since they accused their labor brokers in July of making excessive monthly deductions of NT$8,000 (US$272.43) from their salaries for up to 14 months.

Filipino-American Priest Joy F. Tajonera, head of the Ugnayan Center shelter in Taichung who provides assistance to the fishermen, told CNA that their case should be viewed as a form of human trafficking due to their accumulation of debts and dismissal should they complain.

"This is an international conference that shows how Taiwan is working hard in combating human trafficking, but now I present to you in the flesh and blood of the six fishermen, the real victims of human trafficking," Tajonera said. 

Tajonera argued that the case of the six Filipinos should be seen as a human trafficking case by Taiwanese labor departments, but it has instead been addressed through mediation with the broker.

"I don't understand why (Taiwan) labor departments still have to negotiate. They should right away issue a penalty to the employer and the broker who recruited and hired these people," Tajonera said. (Content by CNA)

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