A call to authorities ahead of the ICCPR/ICESCR review next February

Press release

Following a fact-finding mission to Taiwan in November, the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH) made an assessment of the government’s on-going efforts to address core human rights challenges highlighted in the initial State reports on ICCPR and ICESCR, released last April. The mission found that in spite of progress, major contradictions continue to oppose domestic laws, policies and regulations to international human rights standards. In particular, FIDH and its member organization, the Taiwan Association for Human Rights (TAHR), urge the authorities not to resume executions as it has been rumoured they may do in the past few weeks.

“Death penalty is not compatible with the abolitionist spirit of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, which Taiwan has ratified in 2009. The authorities should implement a moratorium on executions as a first step towards abolition”, said Danthong Breen, a Thai senior human rights activist who led FIDH mission. “Experience in other countries shows that public opposition to abolition eventually ends, as people realize that abolition does not result in an increase of crime rates”.

FIDH mission met government agencies, non-government organizations and affected communities ahead of a high-level visit by international experts coming to review Taiwan’s initial State reports in February 2013. The team valued the work achieved by dozens of NGOs, which joined a large coalition in order to express their views and share recommendations with authorities. The government’s willingness to consult with civil society organizations and engage them in the review process was deemed commendable.

Apart from the critical issue of death penalty, FIDH mission found that tremendous challenges remain in the field of economic and social rights, which are not yet adequately addressed by domestic laws and policies. The most pressing issues are related to land evictions in both rural and urban areas; the continued marginalization of indigenous people; and human rights abuses affecting migrants from Asia.

“Taiwan’s economic growth cannot take place at the cost of the rights of migrants from poorer parts of Asia, especially Indonesia, the Philippines and Vietnam. Taiwan needs to strengthen protection mechanisms, in particular for women migrant workers and foreign brides who increasingly suffer from exploitation, domestic violence and social discrimination”, said Puri Kencana Putri, another member of FIDH mission and researcher at Jakarta-based KontraS. “Bilateral agreements to protect migrants should be signed with the countries of origin as this is a regional issue”, she added.

“Following this mission, FIDH is pleased by the government’s willingness to engage a human rights dialogue with both national and international organizations. While Taiwan remains isolated from the international community, human rights are universal and it is crucial for the government to make further steps to show its commitment to international human rights standards”, said Souhayr Belhassen, FIDH president. “Abolition of death penalty in Taiwan would send a strong and positive signal to other retentionist states in the region”.

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