International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH)
Taiwan Association for Human Rights (TAHR)
The hidden face of Taiwan: lessons learnt from the ICCPR/ICESCR review process
Taipei, Paris. 22 April 2013. In February, FIDH and TAHR attended a week of meetings organized by the government of Taiwan and a panel of international experts to review progress achieved in the domestic implementation of ICCPR and ICESCR. In a report published today, “The hidden face of Taiwan: lessons learnt from the ICCPR/ICESCR review process”, FIDH and TAHR highlight their key findings and recommendations, and conclude that while key legislation and important reforms have been undertaken in Taiwan over the past decade, urgent steps are still needed to bring human right practice in line with international standards.
“We entitled our report the ”Hidden Face of Taiwan” to stress that Taiwan cannot only be hailed as an economic success. It remains a young democracy, and faces numerous human rights challenges. It is therefore essential to support the endeavor of the Taiwanese government and civil society to strengthen a still fragile human rights culture”, said Souhayr Belhassen, FIDH president.
During a joint fact-finding mission organised in November, FIDH and TAHR identified the death penalty and the administration of justice as some of the most pressing human rights concerns.
“We are particularly dismayed by the execution on 19 April of six death row prisoners, which follows the execution in December 2012 of six other prisoners, the day following the adoption by the UN General Assembly of a resolution calling for a universal moratorium on death penalty. Taiwan was one of the 21 States worldwide that carried out executions in 2012 and will remain one of the few countries carrying out executions in 2013”, said Wellington Koo, TAHR president.
“Experience in other countries shows that public opposition to abolition, raised by the authorities, eventually ends, as people realize that abolition does not result in an increase of crime rates”, added Danthong Breen, director of the Union for Civil Liberty, who represented FIDH during the review meetings in February.
The report by FIDH and TAHR also highlights problems related to land rights, housing rights, environmental rights, the continued marginalization of indigenous people and human rights abuses affecting women and migrants from poorer countries in Asia.
“Human rights are universal, and we cannot accept some official statements made right after the visit to Taipei of ten highly respected international experts, that some rights, including the right to housing, need to be adapted to the national context. It is unfortunate that the government is trying to evade an escalating number of scandals resulting from the forced eviction of vulnerable communities from their homes and lands, both in urban and rural areas”, concluded Souhayr Belhassen.
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 In spite of its absence from the United Nations since 1971, the Government of Taiwan ratified in 2009 the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) and the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR). In April 2012, it published an initial progress report, which was reviewed by a panel of international experts from 25 February to 1 March 2013. The experts included: Manfred Nowak (Austria), Philip Alston (Australia), Nisuke Ando (Japan), Virginia Bonoan-Dandan (Philippines), Theodor van Boven (Netherlands), Jerome Cohen (USA), Shanthi Dairiam (Malaysia), Asma Jahangir (Pakistan), Eibe Riedel (Germany) and Heisoo Shin (South Korea).