The National Police Agency, Taiwan. Photo: Google Maps
The National Police Agency, Taiwan. Photo: Google Maps

Two Taiwanese labor rights groups are seeking an independent investigation into whether police officers exercised excessive force that led to the death of a Vietnamese illegal migrant who was shot with a stun gun.

On April 14, 2018, the victim surnamed Voong, together with compatriots who were also illegal migrants without work permits, were allegedly conducting illegal logging in the hills of Chiayi County, southwestern Taiwan. They were caught carrying logs downhill by officers from the Seventh Special Police Corps and Forest District Office of Chiayi, The Udn Daily News reported.

It was alleged that Voong was subdued by a group of police officers, one of whom fired a stun gun which hit the victim in the head. While police were dressing his wounds, Voong escaped, and after he leaped downhill, police were unable to locate him.

Several days later, Voong was found dead in the hills of Alishan, still handcuffed. A coroner’s report found that Voong died of failure of his central nervous system.

The Taiwan International Workers Association and the Vietnamese Migrant Workers and Brides Office organized a protest at the National Police Agency on Monday, urging a full investigation into Voong’s death, and demanding to know whether officers exercised excessive force in their use of a stun gun and handcuffs.

The two groups also urged the scrapping of a performance-based pay system for police who capture illegal immigrants and called for the National Immigration Agency to take charge of handling illegal immigrant matters in the country.

Preliminary investigations by the Taiwan Chiayi District Prosecutors Office suggested that officers handcuffing the victim did so in compliance with regulations, as Voong had clearly been identified as one of the suspects involved in illegal logging at the time of the police action.