No detention centre mapping data


Taiwan (Republic of China) Immigration Detention

Detention is an important tool of immigration control in Taiwan. However, the country is not a member of the United Nations and thus its detention practices are not subject to international human rights laws. Nevertheless, Taiwan has long aspired to UN status and it has included key provisions from human rights treaties in its legislation. Immigration detention has been regulated in domestic law since 1999 and detainee numbers have steadily fallen in recent years.

Quick Facts


Immigration detainees (2012): 10,025
Immigration detention capacity (2014): 1,418
Persons expelled (2014): 8,166
International migrants (2013): 504,000

Profile Updated: October 2016

Republic of China (Taiwan) Immigration Detention Profile             

 

INTRODUCTION

Immigration detention is an important tool of immigration control in Taiwan (Republic of China). However, because of opposition by China (People’s Republic of China) to recognising Taiwan as a sovereign state, the county is prevented from being a member of the United Nations and thus its detention practices are not subject to relevant international human rights legal instruments.[1] Nevertheless, Taiwan has long aspired to be a part of the UN system and it has included key provisions from human rights law in its legislation.

There appears to be a trend toward de-emphasising the use of immigration detention, and the National Immigration Agency claims to detain “only if absolutely necessary.” Official sources report declining numbers of detainees since 2011: 9,451 “illegal foreigners” were detained in 2012; 9,346 in 2013; 7,090 in 2014; and 7,171 during the first ten months of 2015. Likewise the average number of days foreigners are kept in immigration detention dropped from 44.12 in 2012 to 27.84 days for the ten months ending October 2015. For “Mainland residents” (citizens of the People’s Republic of China), average stay dropped from 80.17 in 2012 to 51.94 during the same period. There have also been decreases in deportations: 12,756 were expelled in 2012; 8,166 in 2014; and 7,500 during the first ten months of 2015. [2]

Government sources report that 39,125 people where held in the main island’s immigration detention centres between 2007 and 2011 and another 65,933 in “temporary shelters” on smaller islands closer to mainland China.[3] There have been cases of people being detained for very long periods of time. In 2008, a Taiwanese civil society organisation assisted a Sierra Leone citizen who had been held in immigration detention for more than 10 years.[4] 

Advocates have had some success in pushing reforms. In 2015, the country adopted a law ending the detention of various vulnerable groups, including young children and women who are more than five weeks pregnant.[5]

The Republic of China was an original member of the United Nations and the UN Security Council. But in October 1971, the General Assembly recognized the People’s Republic of China as the only legitimate representative of the country.[6] Taiwan’s government has made various unsuccessful attempts to participate in UN activities since then.[7] Its most recent attempts to register ratification of two core human rights treaties were turned down by the UN Secretary-General in 2009.[8]

Notwithstanding this rejection, the Legislative Yuan (parliament) adopted an Implementation Act making the Covenants on Civil and Political (ICCPR) and on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights legally binding in Taiwan. The act included provisions for a “national human rights reporting system to regularly monitor the implementation of the covenant.”[9] Despite the UN legal monitoring vacuum, Taiwanese domestic law includes a legal framework for immigration detention. The 2012 and 2016 government reports on implementation of ICCPR provide data and statistics on immigration detention.[10]

 

LAWS, POLICIES, AND PRACTICES

Grounds and length of detention. The Immigration Act adopted in 1999 contains detention and deportation provisions in Article 38.[11] Grounds for detention include inability to present valid travel documents and “evidence to suggest loss of whereabouts, escaping from authority, or reluctance to leave the country under own free will.” Detention is divided into three periods: temporary (up to 15 days); continuous (from 16 to 60 days); and extended (from 61 to 100 days). Decisions within the temporary phase are at the discretion of the National Immigration Agency, under the Ministry of Interior. Detention beyond 15 days is by court order.[12]

Article 38 was revised in 2011 and set a limit of 120 days for administrative detention of aliens (except for nationals of the Peoples’ Democratic Republic of China, who can be detained indefinitely).[13]

In 2013, a group of 10 foreign independent experts reviewed the Taiwan government’s first reports on implementation of the ICCPR. In their concluding observations and recommendations, they said that orders under the Immigration Act should be subject to judicial review and that the 120-day limit for administrative detention of aliens should be equally applied to nationals from the People’s Republic of China.[14]

Legal challenges were mounted by civil society on prolonged detention on the constitutionality of the Act, which led to the adoption of amendments in 2011 and 2015.[15] The 2015 amended law reduced the length of immigration detention from120 to 100days; it provides for the suspension of detention for persons with mental or physical health problems, pregnant women as well as those who have recently given birth or suffered a miscarriage, and children under 12.[16]  Due to Taiwan’s geo-political situation, there are specific provisions concerning people from Mainland China, which allows them to be placed “in temporary custody before deportation or ordered in addition to perform labour services.” Under separate legislation “Mainland residents” may be detained over the 100 days limit for up to 150 days.[17]

Procedural safeguards. The experts who reviewed the government report on implementation of ICCPR also recommended that Article 9(4) ICCPR that entitles persons deprived of liberty to a review of the lawfulness of detention before a court should also be applicable to foreigners or “mainlanders” detained under immigration law.  In 2014, the Habeas Corpus act was amended  to also apply to foreigners  so that “a person arrested or detained by an organ other than court, may petition for habeas corpus, no matter criminal activities are involved or not; an arrestee's or a detainee's request should be reviewed by a specialized court.”  According to official sources, from July 2014 to October 2015, there were 36 final decisions under administrative habeas corpus cases concluded by district courses (13 under the Immigration Act and 23 under de Act Governing Relations between the People of the Taiwan Area and the Mainland Area).[18]

Under Article 3 of the Regulations Governing the Detention of Aliens, detained foreigners are informed in writing of the reasons, legal basis, rights and obligations related to their detention.[19] Such information is available in 17 languages.[20] Likewise consular assistance is available including for nationals of countries such as Indonesia, Vietnam and Thailand. Medical services are reportedly provided through arrangements with the Immigration Agency and civil society and religious organisation.

Re-entry bans. According to official figures, 17,542 persons were prohibited entry due to previous record of overstay and illegal work in 2014 and 15,112 for the first ten months of 2015.[21]

Criminalisation. Article 74 of the Immigration Act provides that “A person who enters and/or exits the State without permission or breaks an exit ban shall be punished with imprisonment for not more than three (3) years, detention, and/or a fine of not more than NT$ 90,000.”

International law. Although the country cannot be a party to the UN Refugee Convention, there have been ongoing discussions in the country concerning a Draft Refugee Act since 2006. Dissenters exiled form Mainland China as well as stateless persons from Tibet and the Thai-Burma border who entered Taiwan before the end of 2008 can obtain residence permits but are not recognized as refugees and do not enjoy some of the rights provided in the Refugee Convention.[22]  The draft refugee Act establishing for the first time an asylum application process passed initial review at the Legislative Yuan (Parliament) on 14 July 2016. [23] At the time of writing no information is available as to whether immigration detainees can apply for asylum in detention or whether asylum seekers are protected from immigration detention.

As the UN does not recognize the Republic of China as a sovereign state, UN agencies like UNHCR and a number of other international organisations (including the World Bank and the International Organisation for Migration) do not collect statistics or socio-economic data on the country, which has effectively left the country in a statistical black hole internationally.[24]

Alternatives to detention. In a 2016 Working Paper for the Global Detention Project, the director of the International Detention Coalition described advocacy efforts aimed at getting the country to adopt “alternatives to detention.” He wrote that the adoption by Taiwan of legal reforms in 2015 illustrates how local advocates can use the promotion of ATDs to effectively engage governments on reform ideas. A representative of a Taiwanese NGO said that without ATDs advocates may have “continued to use legislative adversarial strategies and not sought to engage the government.”[25]

 

DETENTION INFRASTRUCTURE

As of 2016, Taiwan’s National Immigration Agency had a dedicated website listing country’s immigration detention centres.[26] At the time of this publication, the website listed seven facilities, including their addresses and contact information:

 

 

Two of these facilities, Kinmen and Lienchiang, are on two small islands located between Taiwan and the People’s Republic of China. According to government sources, the National Immigration Agency uses different facilities depending on the expected time before expulsion. Persons expelled within “relatively short time are placed into temporary detention centers of the Specialized Operational Brigades of the National Immigration Agency, whereas those who cannot leave within a short time-horizon are placed at large-capacity detention centers of the Agency.”[27]

 

 

[1] Sigrid Winkler, “Taiwan’s UN Dilemma: To Be or Not To Be,” Brookings, 20 June 2012, https://www.brookings.edu/opinions/taiwans-un-dilemma-to-be-or-not-to-be/

[2] Implementation of the International Covenant on Civil and Politica Rights – Second Report Submitted under Article 40 of the Covenant, Republic of China (Taiwan), April 2016.

[3] Republic of China (Taiwan), “Implementation of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, Initial report submitted under article 40 of the Covenant, “ September 2012. http://www.humanrights.moj.gov.tw/public/Attachment/541517201510.pdf

[4] Taiwan Association for Human Rights. Global Detention Project Questionnaire. 31 December 2013.

[5] International Detention Coalition, “Children and Pregnant Women No Longer Detained in Taiwan,” 9 February 2015, http://idcoalition.org/news/new-limits-detention-taiwan/.

[6] General Assembly Resolution 2758 (XXVI), Restoration of the Lawful Rights of the People’s Republic of China in the United Nations,1976th plenary meeting, 25 October 1971. http://www.un.org/documents/ga/res/26/ares26.htm

[7] General Assembly, Request for the inclusion of a supplementary item in the agenda of the sixty-third session. Need to examine the fundamental rights of the 23 million people of the Republic of China (Taiwan) to participate meaningfully in the activities of the United Nations specialized agencies Sixty-third session, A/63/194, 22nd August 2008. http://www.taiwanembassy.org/public/Data/891723384371.pdf

[8] Schabas, William A. “Taiwan and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights,“ PhD studies in human rights. 15 March 2010. http://humanrightsdoctorate.blogspot.ch/2010/03/taiwan-and-international-covenant-on.html

[9] Peter Huang, “A Breakthrough in human rights, “Taipei Times, 8 April 2009. http://www.taipeitimes.com/News/editorials/print/2009/04/08/2003440494

[10] Implementation of the International Covenant on Civil and Politica Rights – Second Report Submitted under Article 40 of the Covenant, Republic of China (Taiwan), April 2016; Republic of China (Taiwan), “Implementation of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, Initial report submitted under article 40 of the Covenant, “ September 2012. http://www.humanrights.moj.gov.tw/public/Attachment/541517201510.pdf

[11] Immigration Act, as amended. http://www.immigration.gov.tw/ct.asp?xItem=1096847&ctNode=30026&mp=2.

[12] Implementation of the International Covenant on Civil and Politica Rights – Second Report Submitted under Article 40 of the Covenant, Republic of China (Taiwan), April 2016.

[13] Review of the Initial Reports of the Government of Taiwan on the Implementation of the International Human Rights Covenants, Concluding Observations and Recommendations Adopted by the International Group of Experts, Taipei, 1 March 2013. http://bim.lbg.ac.at/en/news/taiwan-s-human-rights-compliance-under-international-review

[14] Concluding Observations and Recommendations Adopted by the International Group of Independent Experts, March 2013, http://chrgj.org/documents/concluding-observations-and-recommendations-adopted-by-the-international-group-of-independent-experts-taipei-1-march-2013/

[15] International Detention Coalition. “Children  & Pregnant Women No Longer Detained in Taiwan.” January 2015.  http://idcoalition.org/news/new-limits-detention-taiwan/

[16] Immigration Act, amended Articles 15, 36-38 and 91 as well as Articles 38-1~38-9 stipulated in the Presidential Decree hua-zong-yi-yi-zi No. 10400013351, promulgated on February 4, 2015 Ministry of the Interior of ROC, http://glrs.moi.gov.tw/EngLawContent.aspx?id=332.

[17] Implementation of the International Covenant on Civil and Politica Rights – Second Report Submitted under Article 40 of the Covenant, Republic of China (Taiwan), April 2016.

[18] Implementation of the International Covenant on Civil and Politica Rights – Second Report Submitted under Article 40 of the Covenant, Republic of China (Taiwan), April 2016.

[19] Regulations Governing Temporary Detention of Passengers, 14 January 2013, http://www.immigration.gov.tw/ct.asp?xItem=1182927&ctNode=30026&mp=2.

[20] Implementation of the International Covenant on Civil and Politica Rights – Second Report Submitted under Article 40 of the Covenant, Republic of China (Taiwan), April 2016.

[21] Implementation of the International Covenant on Civil and Politica Rights – Second Report Submitted under Article 40 of the Covenant, Republic of China (Taiwan), April 2016.

[22] Asia Pacific Refugee Rights Network. Taiwan. APRRN WIKI. http://aprrn.info/wiki/tiki-index.php?page=Taiwan

[23] Abraham Gerber, « Draft refugee act passes initial committee review,” Taipei Times, 15 July 2016, http://www.taipeitimes.com/News/taiwan/archives/2016/07/15/2003651069.

[25] Grant Mitchell, “Engaging Governments on Alternatives to Immigration Detention,” Global Detention Project Working Paper No. 14, July 2016, https://www.globaldetentionproject.org/engaging-governments-alternatives-immigration-detention.

[26] National Immigration Agency, "Detention Centers," http://www.immigration.gov.tw/lp.asp?ctNode=32917&CtUnit=16673&BaseDSD=108&mp=2 (accessed 17 October 2016)

[27] Implementation of the International Covenant on Civil and Politica Rights – Second Report Submitted under Article 40 of the Covenant, Republic of China (Taiwan), April 2016.

Centres List

No detention centres data available

Statistics Expand all



10,025

Total number of immigration detainees by year

2012

  • Total number of immigration detainees by year
NumberObservation Date
10,0252012
7,6022011
8,0452010
7,8692009
5,9792008
9,6302007


1,418

Estimated total immigration detention capacity

2014

  • Estimated total immigration detention capacity
NumberObservation Date
1,4182014


4

Number of dedicated long-term immigration detention centres

2015

  • Number of dedicated long-term immigration detention centres
NumberObservation Date
42015


8,166

Number of persons removed/returned (voluntary returns and deportations)

2014

  • Number of persons removed/returned (voluntary returns and deportations)
NumberObservation Date
8,1662014
11,7922013
12,7562012


61,430

Criminal prison population

2017

  • Criminal prison population
NumberObservation Date
61,4302017


0.7

Percentage of foreign prisoners

2015

  • Percentage of foreign prisoners
PercentageObservation Date
0.72015


261

Prison population rate (per 100,000 of national population)

2017

  • Prison population rate (per 100,000 of national population)
NumberObservation Date
2612017



23,433,753

Population

2014

  • Population
NumberObservation Date
23,433,7532014


504,000

International migrants

2013

  • International migrants
NumberObservation Date
504,0002013
483,9002009


38,629

Estimated number of undocumented migrants

2013

  • Estimated number of undocumented migrants
NumberObservation Date
38,6292013

Domestic Law Expand all

Legal tradition Show sources
NameObservation Date
Civil law
Customary law

Constitutional guarantees? Show sources
NameConstitution and ArticlesYear AdoptedLast Year Amended
YesConstitution of the Republic of China adopted on 25 December 1946, Chapter II Rights and Duties of the People, Article 8.19461946
Core pieces of national legislation Show sources
NameYear AdoptedLast Year Amended
Republic of China. Immigration Act. 21 May 1999. As amended in February 2015. 19992015
Immigration Act. No. 8800119740. Promulgated by Presidential Decree Hua-Zong-Yi-Yi-Zi. May 21, 1999. As amended in 2011.19992011
Additional legislation Show sources
NameYear AdoptedLast Year Amended
Act Governing Relations between the People of the Taiwan Area and the Mainland Area. Promulgated by Presidential Order on July 31, 1992. As amended on 3 March 2012.19922012
Human Trafficking Prevention Act2009
Regulations, standards, guidelines Show sources
NameYear Published
Regulations Governing the Detention of the Aliens. Enacted and promulgated by Order (89) Tai-Nei-Yi-Tzu No.8981106 of the Ministry of the Interior on Feb.1, 2000. As amended on 27 July 2012.2000
Laws and Regulations Regarding Hong Kong & Macao Affairs. Promulgated by Presidential Order No. Hua-Tsung-(1)-Yi-Tze-8600080010 on April 2, 1997. As amended on 30 May 2006. 1997

Immigration-status-related grounds Show sources
NameObservation Date
Detention for failing to respect a voluntary removal order2015
Detention for unauthorised entry or stay2015

Does the country provide specific criminal penalties for immigration-related violations? Show sources
FinesIncarcerationObservation Date
YesYes2015
Grounds for criminal immigration-related detention/incarceration and maximum potential duration of incarceration Show sources
Grounds for IncarcerationMaximum Number of Days of IncarcerationObservation Date
Unauthorized entry10952015
Unauthorized exit10952015

Maximum length for administrative immigration detention in law. Show sources
Number of DaysObservation Date
1002015
1202014
Longest recorded instance of immigration detention. Show sources
Number of DaysObservation Date
36502008
Average length of detention Show sources
Number of DaysObservation Date
452013
562012
722011
632010
762009
882008
942007

Provision of basic procedural standards Show sources
NameIn LawIn PracticeObservation Date
Right to appeal the lawfulness of detentionYesNo2013
Right to legal counselNoYes2013
Information to detaineesYesYes2013
Access to consular assistanceNoYes2013
Access to asylum proceduresNoNo2013
Independent review of detentionNoNo2013
Complaints mechanism regarding detention conditionsNoYes2013
Access to free interpretation servicesNoNo2013

Is the detention of vulnerable persons provided in law? Are they detained in practice? Show sources
NameIn LawIn PracticeObservation Date
Pregnant womenProhibited2015
Persons with disabilitiesProhibited2015
Victims of traffickingProhibited2015
RefugeesNot mentioned2015
Accompanied minorsYes2014
Unaccompanied minorsNot mentionedNo2013
Asylum seekersNot mentioned2013

Re-entry ban Show sources
NameObservation Date
Yes2015

Institutions Expand all

Federal or centralized governing system Show sources
Federal or centralized governing systemObservation Date
Centralized system2015
Centralized or decentralized immigration authority Show sources
Centralized or decentralized immigration authorityObservation Date
Centralized immigration authority2015

Custodial authority Show sources
AgencyMinistryMinistry TypologyObservation Date
National Immigration AgencyInterior MinistryInterior or Home Affairs2015
National Immigration AgencyMinistry of the InteriorInterior or Home Affairs2015
National Immigration AgencyMinistry of InteriorInterior or Home Affairs2014
National Immigration AgencyMinistry of the InteriorInterior or Home Affairs2012
National Immigration AgencyMinistry of InteriorInterior or Home Affairs2007
Detention Facility Management Show sources
Entity NameEntity TypeObservation Date
National Immigration AgencyGovernmental2015
National Immigration CenterGovernmental2015
Formally designated detention estate? Show sources
Formally designated immigration detention estate?Types of officially designated detention centresObservation Date
YesDedicated immigration detention facilities2015
Types of detention facilities used in practice Show sources
Immigration detention centre (Administrative)Immigration field office (Administrative)Transit centre (Administrative)Reception centre (Administrative)Offshore detention centre (Administrative)Hospital (Administrative)Border guard (Administrative)Police station (Criminal)National penitentiary (Criminal)Local prison (Criminal)Juvenile detention centre (Criminal)Informal camp (Ad hoc)Immigration detention centre (Ad hoc)Surge facility (Ad hoc)Observation Date
Yes2015
2015
Yes2014

Authorized monitoring institutions Show sources
InstitutionInstitution TypeObservation Date
Taiwan Association for Human RightsNon-Governmental Organizations (NGO)2013
Columban Fathers. Missionary Society of Saint Columban.Non-Governmental Organizations (NGO)2013
Hsinchu Catholic Diocese Migrants and Immigrants Service CentreNon-Governmental Organizations (NGO)2013
Caritas TaiwanNon-Governmental Organizations (NGO)2013
Do NGOs carry out visits? Show sources
Do NGOs regularly carry our visits?Observation Date
Yes2013

Estimated annual budget for detention operations Show sources
Estimated total annual budget for detention operations (in USD)Building and maintenanceSecurityStaffingFoodMedicalTransportObservation Date
1,390,4202014
1,484,9802013
1,704,7702012

Socio Economic Data Expand all

Gross Domestic Product per capita (in USD) Show sources
Gross Domestic Product per capita (in USD)Observation Date
43,6002014
Unemployment Rate Show sources
Unemployment RateObservation Date
3.82014
Net official development assistance (ODA) (in millions USD) Show sources
Net official development assistance (ODA) (in USD)Observation Date
272,000,0002013

Additional Resources


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