Fri, Nov 21, 2003 - Page 1 News List

New constitution to bolster human rights, Chen says

By Lin Chieh-yu  /  STAFF REPORTER

President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) said yesterday that human rights will be a priority in drafting a new constitution.

"Taiwan's current Constitution only designates 14 kinds of human rights protection, which is behind the standards of other modern constitutional countries," Chen told foreign guests at the Presidential Office.

To address that gap, Chen said, "We need to consult with international experts to assist Taiwan in advancing the country's new constitution."

Chen said he hopes international experts can help the country develop a mechanism for comprehensive rights protection.

He added that a new constitution must fit Taiwan's present reality and meet its practical needs.

Chen was addressing a delegation from the Geneva-based International Commission of Jurists (ICJ).

He said Taiwan is willing to contribute to the international human rights field and that he hopes the country can reach its ultimate goal of joining global rights organizations.

Chen said he had already outlined the goal of making the country a rights-oriented nation in his inauguration speech in 2000, adding that the government has proposed concrete goals and chalked up achievements during past three-and-a-half years.

"We suggested that the Legislative Yuan make the International Bill of Rights a domestic law, which could become a `Taiwan Bill of Rights.' We also drafted a bill to set up a Human Rights Commission under the Presidential Office," Chen said.

"Now we are devoted to the drafting of a human rights law, which is a crucial part of the new constitution, linking Taiwan's progress with the international human rights system," Chen said.

Chen told the delegation that since former ICJ chairman Kofi Kumado visited Taiwan in 2001, the country has raised its international visibility through the bilateral cooperation.

Since the Taipei Bar Association obtained membership in the ICJ, Chen said, the association has been able to attend various UN-sponsored human rights meetings in Geneva over the past few years.

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