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Professor Lan Pei-chia on the Two Covenants and Human Rights Protection of Migrant Workers and New Immigrants

On March 29, 2017, the Human Rights Protection Committee of the Control Yuan invited Professor Lan Pei-chia of the Department of Sociology at National Taiwan University to talk about the two covenants and human rights protection of migrant workers and new immigrants. Prof. Lan is also a current member of the Presidential Office Human Rights Consultative Committee and a longtime researcher in gender, labor and international migration studies. Her lecture tackled these complicated subjects in an easy–to-understand manner, which the attendees all found very fruitful. Prof. Lan begins with the numbers and composition of the migrant workers and new immigrants in Taiwan, and then analyzes the conditions and problems they are facing. She further contrasts them with the human rights obligations our government has to fulfill after ratifying the two covenants before ending her talk with some policy recommendations. According to the latest statistics, there are over 630,000 migrant workers and 520,000 new immigrants in Taiwan. Despite the implementation of the two covenants in 2009, there are still room for improvement to both the work and living conditions of the aforementioned groups. For example, the guest worker program which many migrant workers are under, not only places restrictions on their right to relocate and find alternative jobs within the country but also limits their personal freedom. Female domestic workers, in particular, are not protected by the Labor Standards Act and are prone to sexual harassment and sexual assault due to the specific nature of their working conditions. As for new immigrants, in addition to their right of abode and right to citizenship being infringed upon and treated unfairly, their recognition and needs as a labor are also being neglected by the government, who sees them as mere spouse and parent. Prof. Lan emphasizes that these issues should be deemed systemic problems rather than individual cases. Efforts should be made to improve the system, such as on the limitations of the current laws and regulations, language barriers, lack of support etc. Control Yuan Member Chen Hsiao-hung is a distinguished attendee of the lecture. She expresses her appreciation towards Prof. Lan’s engaging talk and they exchange views on the latest global development of migrant workers, labor wages and policies.