Taiwan investigates possible human trafficking after Vietnamese bodies found at sea
MISE & Agrave; DAY
Taiwanese police have since mid-February found the bodies of at least seven Vietnamese nationals at sea, the island's authorities announced on Thursday, which have opened an investigation into alleged trafficking of human beings.
The authorities of Taiwan and its representative office in Vietnam will help Vietnamese families identify the bodies and investigate the “operators of these illegal boats and their intermediaries”, the Taiwan National Police Agency said.
It added that the Taiwan Coast Guard would assist in the investigation.
Southeast Asia has long been a human trafficking hub and the victims end up on boats in the South China Sea. Shipwrecks are common, especially in the waters between Taiwan and Japan.
In total, authorities on the self-governing island said they found at least 20 bodies at sea between February 18 and 29 March.
At least four of them are being identified, police said, while nine were confirmed to be Taiwanese who fell overboard either accidentally or as a result of a suicide.
There is no indication that the deaths of the Taiwanese nationals are linked to the bodies of the Vietnamese found at sea, the agency added.
“We will also work with the relevant Vietnamese law enforcement agencies to continue tracking illegal smuggling networks in Vietnam,” the agency added.