Taipei/Taoyuan, Aug. 15 (CNA) Nine Taiwanese who were allegedly lured to Cambodia with lucrative job offers but then held and forced to work there illegally were brought back home Sunday night after a joint effort between Taiwan and Thailand, according to the Criminal Investigation Bureau (CIB).
With the assistance of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA), the nine people -- six men and three women between the ages of 23 and 42 -- took China Airlines flight CI-836 to return to Taiwan from Bangkok.
They arrived at Taoyuan International Airport at 9:55 p.m. Sunday and then went to the Aviation Police Bureau for questioning, before undergoing home isolation in accordance with Taiwan's COVID-19 regulations.
CIB Deputy Director Huang Chia-chi (黃家琦) told media at the airport that Taiwan's representative office in Thailand received a notification from the Thai government earlier Sunday that 12 Taiwanese nationals who had just entered Thailand from Cambodia were suspected of being human trafficking victims.
The office immediately sent staff to investigate and found out that three of the Taiwanese were listed as human trafficking victims based on reports received by Taiwanese police. It instantly asked the Thai government for assistance, Huang said.
After an investigation by the Thai government, nine of the 12 Taiwanese were identified as victims of human trafficking, while the other three are still in Thailand for follow-up investigations, according to Huang.
The representative office in collaboration with the Thai government immediately arranged for the nine Taiwanese to return home by activating an emergency assistance protocol for overseas Taiwanese and a human trafficking victim protection mechanism, according to Huang.
The nine are among the 60 Taiwanese victims of overseas employment scams who have been rescued and brought back home recently, according to the CIB under the National Police Agency (NPA).
Taoyuan prosecutors in conjunction with the NPA and the National Immigration Agency will continue to investigate such cases, according to Huang.
Amid a spike in the number of Taiwanese falling victim to job scams in Cambodia, Taiwan's government has formed a Cabinet-level task force to have Taiwanese trapped in Cambodia rescued and returned home and also prevent others from being duped into the same situation, the CIB said in a statement issued Sunday.
MOFA and the NPA have received requests for help from 340 Taiwanese who allegedly fell prey to job scams in Cambodia, and between July 26 and Aug. 14, 26 people had been dissuaded at the airport from going to the Southeast Asian country for fake lucrative job offers, according to the statement.
According to the CIB, NPA officers recently kicked off household visits nationwide regarding more than 4,000 Taiwanese nationals who had left for Cambodia, and identified nearly 100 new cases of people having fallen prey to scammers in the Southeast Asian country.
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