Sat, Apr 21, 2012 - Page 1 News List

Ma presents first human rights report

CASE BY CASE:Ma said the government had still not decided whether to make human rights a focus in cross-strait talks, but would discuss such issues as and when they arose

By Mo Yan-chih  /  Staff reporter

President Ma Ying-jeou, center, is flanked by Premier Sean Chen, left, and Vice President Vincent Siew at the Presidential Office as Ma presented his administration’s first national human rights report since signing two UN human rights covenants in 2009.

Photo: Wang Yi-sung, Taipei Times

Taiwan will continue to pay close attention to human rights in China as cross-strait relations develop, President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) said yesterday, but he did not commit to making human rights part of cross-strait negotiations.

The Ma administration yesterday presented the first national human rights report at the Presidential Office.

The government has frequently expressed concern about human rights in China and would continue to discuss the issue with Beijing, Ma said.

“Protection of human rights is a major issue when it comes to reducing the distance between the two sides of the Taiwan Strait, although we have not yet decided whether to make it one of the items in cross-strait talks,” he said.

Ma said the government would discuss issues related to human rights with China as individual cases arise.

For example, during talks on a cross-strait investment protection pact, the two sides discussed ways to inform the families of Taiwanese businesspeople who are arrested in China, he said.

“If there are similar instances during the signing of cross-strait agreements, we will not hesitate to express our stance on the protection of human rights and communicate with China on human rights issues,” he said.

Ma signed two covenants — the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights — in 2009, showcasing the government’s determination to protect human rights in Taiwan. However, the UN refused to recognize Taiwan as an official signatory, citing the “one China” principle.

Ma said the UN’s rejection did not stop Taiwan from making the two covenants domestic law and joining the international community in protecting human rights.

“A great number of human rights violations are committed by governments and we need to establish internationally accepted standards and ensure public servants are aware of the importance of protecting human rights,” he said.

The report, which is compiled by the Presidential Office’s human rights advisory panel, details the nation’s progress at protecting human rights in different areas, including gender equality, individual freedoms, social welfare and the judicial system.

The report also addressed the issue of media monopolies, a subject of much concern recently when Want Want China Broadband (旺中寬頻) bid to acquire 11 cable television services owned by China Network Service.

Ma yesterday declined to comment on the issue, while Vice President Vincent Siew (蕭萬長), convener of the panel, said the report did not address individual cases.

The government has instructed the National Communications Commission and Government Information Office to handle the case carefully.

The report will be translated into English within three months and the government will invite international academics to review it.

Ma also promised to make the presentation of a national human rights report an annual event.

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