Briefs: Taiwan Still Looking to Rescue Nearly 300 Nationals From Scams, Record Number of Journalists Detained

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The barbed wire fence surrounding a building complex, called “Jincai” by one worker, where workers are allegedly detained to perpetuate scams, on May 30, 2022. (Danielle Keeton-Olsen/VOD)
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After repatriating more than 400 nationals from scams primarily in Cambodia, the Taiwanese government is still seeking the return of nearly 300 more people, a government-controlled news agency said this week.

Taiwan’s Central News Agency said the Taiwanese nationals had been lured mainly to Cambodia “with offers of fake lucrative jobs and then forced to work for fraud rings,” citing Taiwanese Foreign Affairs Ministry official Wallace Chow.

The human trafficking is in line with long-running reports of slave compounds in Sihanoukville and elsewhere perpetrating global scams with forced foreign laborers, before the Cambodian government directed more attention to the plight in September.

Chow said in a news briefing this week that Cambodian police believed many of the fraud rings had left Cambodia to hide in Myanmar or Laos, making it more difficult to track down the 296 remaining Taiwanese nationals, CNA reported.

The Taiwanese government previously estimated that 699 of its citizens were trapped in Cambodia, based on checking in with the families of 4,000 Taiwanese people known to be staying in the country in August, CNA said.

Taiwanese Foreign Affairs Ministry official Chow said the number of people calling out for rescue had dropped in recent months, but warned the number of victims could rise again as travel increases.

Thousands of foreign workers from across the region have been removed from Cambodian compounds in recent months, with hundreds of human trafficking cases fielded by Cambodian authorities.

— Michael Dickison

‘Record’ Number of Journalists Detained Worldwide

Reporters Without Borders said Wednesday that 533 journalists were currently detained worldwide, a 13% increase from last year and the highest number on record.

China, Myanmar, Iran and Vietnam have imprisoned the highest numbers of journalists, the press freedom group said.

China was detaining 110 journalists, Myanmar 62, Iran 47 and Vietnam 39 as of December 1, Reporters Without Borders said.

Its report added that 57 journalists had been killed and 65 held hostage in 2022.

“Dictatorial and authoritarian regimes are filling their prisons faster than ever by jailing journalists,” the group’s secretary-general Christophe Deloire said in a press release. “This new record in the number of detained journalists confirms the pressing and urgent need to resist these unscrupulous governments and to extend our active solidarity to all those who embody the ideal of journalistic freedom, independence and pluralism.”

The Committee to Protect Journalists, another press freedom group, also said the number of detained journalists was at a record high.

— Michael Dickison

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