Sun, Dec 28, 2008 - Page 1 News List

Taiwan removed from rights Web site

TAIWAN WATCHLESS The nation was listed by Human Rights Watch for several years, but was removed as allegations of human rights violations began to surface

By J. Michael Cole and Jenny W. Hsu  /  STAFF REPORTERS

Last month Taiwan was removed from the list of countries appearing on the Web site of the New York-based organization Human Rights Watch. Prior to the removal, Taiwan had appeared under the “Asia” rubric of the site. At present, 23 countries are listed in the “Asia” section, with China and Tibet appearing under the same head.

Other prominent rights organizations, including Amnesty International and Reporters Without Borders, continue to monitor Taiwan and have in recent weeks published reports on such matters as excessive use of force by police and threats to the independence of the media.

Human Rights Watch wrote on its Web site that: “In assessing trouble spots, we take into consideration the severity of the crimes being committed, the numbers of those affected and our potential to have impact.”

Taiwan has been listed throughout the 2000s, although reports of human rights violations were scarce. Its removal coincided with warnings by rights watchdogs, religious organizations, non-profit organizations, academics and various governments of possible human rights violations by the Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) administration.

Requests from the Taipei Times for comment by Human Rights Watch on the removal have not been answered.

In related news, Taiwan was found listed as “Taipei China” on the World Organization for Animal Health’s (OIE) Web site for its newsletter subscription registration form.

Contacted by the Taipei Times for comment, a Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) official yesterday said Taiwan’s rights in the OIE were not in jeopardy despite the use of “Taipei China” in the country listing for registration on its Web site.

MOFA officials said it was aware of the use of “Taipei China” on the OIE’s Web site and had been working with the group to change it.

The ministry would look into why the country listing in the registration form had not been changed and would inform the OIE about it, officials said.

On the rest of the OIE Web site, Taiwan, one of the 172 members, is listed as Taipei (Chinese). It also uses “Chinese Taipei” in the section pertaining to animal-related diseases in different regions.

MOFA Deputy Spokesman James Chang (章司平) yesterday said it was a technical issue because the group probably had not had time to change all references to “Chinese Taipei.”

Taiwan was admitted to the OIE in 1954 under the name “The Republic of China (Taiwan)” but was later forced to change its designation to “Taipei China” after the People’s Republic of China (PRC) became an official member in 1992.

Last year, Taiwan’s OIE membership name was changed again to “Chinese Taipei.”

Chang said Taiwan agreed to the new moniker in an effort to “cooperate with other member-countries” for the sake of animal health issues.

However, when the change was made last year, the foreign ministry under the Democratic Progressive Party administration lodged a protest against the Paris-based group, saying the change was a political maneuver by Beijing to sabotage Taiwan’s international status.

Last year, Beijing not only urged the OIE to change Taiwan’s designation to “Taiwan, China”— saying that the PRC was the sole legal government representative of China, including Taiwan. It also proposed to downgrade Taiwan’s status from a full member to a “non-sovereign regional member.”

After intervention from the US and the EU, it was decided to change Taiwan’s membership name to “Chinese Taipei” but the downgrade proposal was implemented.

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