AIT acting director lauds efforts to fight against exploitation

By Joy Lee, The China Post

TAIPEI, Taiwan — American Institute in Taiwan (AIT) Acting Director W. Brent Christensen yesterday commended Taiwan’s achievements and efforts in fighting child exploitation during an international conference hosted by the local chapter of End Child Prostitution in Asian Tourism (ECPAT).

Government officials and experts including Deputy Health and Welfare Minister Tseng Chung-ming (曾中明) and the National Immigration Agency Director General Hsieh Li-kung (謝立功) joined the conference, which explored means of ending child exploitation.

Christensen said that the issue spans borders and cultures, and also illustrates the strength of the U.S.-Taiwan partnership in tackling issues that affect both countries.

“The online exploitation of children, including child pornography or images of child sexual abuse,” Christensen said, “is a problem around the globe. Yet the number of related arrests and prosecutions remains low.

“Sexual exploitation is a serious human rights problem that damages both individuals and societies, and for this reason, Taiwan and the United States have been close partners in combating trafficking in persons and protecting victims.”

Christensen commended Taiwan for its leadership and ceaseless efforts in the fight. “For four years in a row Taiwan has maintained its Tier 1 status in the Department of States’ Trafficking-in-Persons Report. Many societies today see Taiwan as a model to follow in their efforts to fight trafficking in persons.”

Christensen said that the AIT also appreciates ECPAT for its contributions.

“ECPAT has teamed up with other nongovernmental organizations in a grassroots effort to draft an amendment to strengthen Taiwan’s current Child and Youth Sexual Transaction Prevention Act, which will help to create tougher enforcement, prosecution and criminal sentences for those who exploit children, even including the possession of child pornography.”

Christensen also said that the expected cooperation between the U.S. and Taiwan on crime fighting to continue.

“I hope the United States and Taiwan will continue to cooperate,” Christensen said, “particularly in the area of identifying dangerous sex offenders. This way we can help each other to more effectively arrest and prosecute those who exploit children and put an end to the illicit business, websites, and social groups that perpetuate such crimes.”

President Ma Ying-jeou awarded ECPAT International the prestigious Asia Democracy and Human Rights Award and a grant of US$100,000 for its work in fighting the commercial sexual exploitation of children, including child pornography.