Taiwan: Joint open letter to President Lai Ching-te

Open Letter
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On the day Lai Ching-te is sworn in as Taiwan’s President, the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH) and its member organizations in Taiwan, Covenants Watch and Taiwan Association for Human Rights (TAHR), sent him a letter to outline 12 human rights priorities for his presidency. Read the letter below.

Honourable President Lai Ching-te
Office of the President
No. 122, Section 1, Chongqing South Road
Zhongzheng District
Taipei City 10048, Taiwan

Paris, Taipei, 20 May 2024

Re: Human rights priorities for your presidency

Dear President Lai,

We, the three undersigned organisations, wish to congratulate you on your election as Taiwan’s President.

We have been encouraged by your commitment to build on the foundation laid by your predecessor, Tsai Ing-wen, to strengthen human rights and the rule of law in Taiwan. However, important human rights challenges remain.

We respectfully call upon your administration to undertake important steps to address them. Such steps include:

1. Directing the Executive Yuan to implement the second National Human Rights Action Plan.

2. Enhancing the functions of the National Human Rights Commission, within the framework of the “Paris Principles.”

3. Declaring an official moratorium on the death penalty, with a view of abolishing capital punishment for all crimes.

4. Granting an amnesty to Mr. Chiou Ho-shun, who has been imprisoned for 35 years – including the past 12 years on death row – and whose health has seriously deteriorated.

5. Adopting the Convention against Torture (CAT), and implementing the recommendations made by the Independent Experts of the Review Committees on the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESR), the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC), the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW), the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination (ICERD), and the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD).

6. Adopting a Refugee Law that ensures protection of refugees and asylum seekers and grants them fundamental human rights in accordance with international standards.

7. Incorporating into domestic legislation provisions of the International Labour Organisation’s Work in Fishing Convention (C188) and Domestic Workers Convention (C189), and revising the overall policies on migrant workers to ensure that the rights of Distant Water Fishing (DWF) migrant workers and domestic migrant workers are fully protected.

8. Reviewing laws and policies related to indigenous peoples’ rights in order to fulfill their self-governance and ensure their right to participate in public affairs, in accordance with international human rights standards, including the principle of Free, Prior, and Informed Consent (FPIC).

9. Enact the necessary legislative reforms to ensure full equality for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and intersex (LGBTI) individuals, particularly regarding their rights to gender reassignment, access to reproductive services and assistance, and same-sex marriages between Chinese and Taiwanese spouses.

10. Protecting digital privacy and preventing data exploitation and breaches, including by revising existing laws and regulations and by establishing an independent data protection authority with sufficient resources.

11. Revising the Assembly and Parade Act and the Civil Associations Act to bring them into line with international standards on freedom of peaceful assembly and freedom of association.

12. Amending the Land Expropriation Act, the Urban Renewal Act, and laws related to urban land consolidation to bring them into line with international standards on the right to adequate housing.

In addition to these steps, we encourage you to strengthen democracy in Taiwan by ensuring transparency and stakeholder participation in decision-making concerning all policies.

We also call on you to uphold the equality of all persons by adopting the necessary policies aimed at achieving an adequate standard of living for every household. Respect, protection, and fulfillment of human rights are crucial to improve the living conditions in every democratic society. Your commitment and determination to address the above-referenced issues will contribute to make Taiwan a human rights model to be emulated in the region and beyond.

We would be privileged to have an opportunity to discuss these issues with you and remain at your disposal to provide the necessary technical expertise to facilitate taking these crucial steps to improve Taiwan’s human rights situation.

Thank you for your attention to this important matter.

Sincerely yours,

FIDH – International Federation for Human Rights

Taiwan Association for Human Rights (TAHR)

Covenants Watch

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