Monday, 27 August 2012

Jailed Taiwan domestic needs freedom fund

A foreign domestic worker (FDW) in Taiwan is seriously in need of assistance from migrant organizations and advocates. Helen Carumba, a 49-year old foreign domestic worker (FDW) with three children has been sentenced by prosecutors to 10 months of imprisonment. Earlier, she was arrested and detained by Taiwan’s National Immigration Administration (NIA) for falsification of her own travel documents.

Prior to this, Ms. Carumba had already been detained for four (4) months, a highly irregular circumstance since Taiwanese law mandates that illegal migrants should immediately be deported, and that the NIA can only detain migrants for the mere purpose of deportation (unless the prosecutor officially requests for longer detention. In Helen’s case, there was no such request from the prosecutor.
While it was clear that the NIA had already committed a transgression under Taiwan’s laws, Helen’s four months of what amounts to illegal detention was not considered in the formulation of the length of sentence. The NIA has admitted that it failed to apprise the prosecutor of its arbitrary detention of the FDW during the hearings, resulting in the excessive length of sentence of 10 months instead of just 6 months.

Some highly unusual police procedures are also being inflicted on Ms. Carumba, it has been reported. Migrante-Taiwan (Helen’s organization) has made the observation that her ankles are manacled by the police during hearings and medical checkups, a practice that is considered to be inhuman and has the effect of prejudicing the case against the accused. This needs to be investigated on by human rights organizations as well as the concerned authorities in Taiwan, and the errant law-enforcers sanctioned accordingly. In the longer term, migrant organizations in the Asia Pacific will be campaigning for changes in host country immigration laws that are inimical to migrant rights.

An appeal from migrant organization is already being prepared to rectify these miscarriages of justice, but the process is bound to be a protracted one. The primary concern now is for Helen to be released  speedily and repatriated to the Philippines, a course of action that will shorten her ordeal and immediately ensure the integrity of her physical and mental well-being. Migrante-Taiwan has already raised funds from within its network to pay for four (4) month’s worth of fine, which is an option provided for by the country’s judicial system. Another six (6) months worth of fines need to be paid up to secure Helen’s freedom, or equivalent to TWD 180,000.  

As Ms. Carumba’s poor family is apparently lacking in means to produce such a huge sum, migrant organizations are now hard put to raise these needed funds that will secure her release. In coordination with Migrante International (MI) and its chapter in Taiwan, APMM is conducting its own initiative to contribute to this “freedom fund” by tapping into the goodwill of its network of migrant organizations and advocates.

APMM is also asking for donations from sympathetic organizations and individual to help build this freedom fund for Helen Carumba. Said Managing Director Ramon Bultron: "Even as we seek redress for the wrongs that she has suffered in the hands of the Taiwanese government, we also understand the urgency of facilitating her early release and repatriation to the Philippines. Any amount that you are able to provide will be a moral contribution to Helen’s human rights, as well as those of other, similarly-situated migrant workers."

Monetary donations by bank transfer may be sent to:

Account Name: APMM Company Limited
Account Number: 808-876627-838
Bank Name: Hong Kong and Shanghai Banking Corporation (HSBC)
Bank Address: No. 1 Queen's Road, Central, Hong Kong SAR
SWIFT Code: HSBCHKHHHKH

1 comment:

conner holmes said...

Well the term Domestic Helpers shall not include children who are under foster family arrangement, and are provided access to education and given an allowance incidental to education, i.e. “baon”, transportation, school projects and school activities.