Sat, Dec 08, 2012 - Page 1 News List

Public feels human rights deteriorating

DISSATISFACTION:Official corruption, the government’s inability to fill people’s needs and media independence were top public concerns, according to an opinion poll

By Shih Hsiu-chuan  /  Staff reporter

Taiwanese feel that human rights in the country have deteriorated, according to a survey of public opinion by the government-affiliated Taiwan Foundation for Democracy, with media independence receiving its worst score since the annual survey was first conducted in 2009.

The survey, conducted by Shih Hsin University, polled 1,076 people from Nov. 20 to Nov. 23 to gauge public opinion on the development of democracy, freedom and human rights this year.

The survey monitors six aspects: personal freedom and legal protection; personal liberty and equality; freedom of expression and religion; the right to protest; the right to participate in elections and vote; and the right to access public services.

On a scale of one to five, with a score of five representing the best and below three representing dissatisfaction, respondents gave 2.9 points to media independence — down from 3.2 points, 3.2 points and 3.1 points respectively in the previous three years.

Corruption was the target of the greatest public dissatisfaction, scoring 1.9 points. It was followed by the government’s ability to respond to people’s needs, which garnered 2 points, and external interference in judicial rulings, at 2.1 points.

A question on judicial fairness and impartiality also received a low score of 2.2 points.

Respondents gave the nation an overall rating of 2.8 points on human rights, 0.2 points lower than the previous year. A breakdown by political party affiliation showed that pro-green respondents gave a rating of 2.3 points, pan-blues 3.2 points and independent voters 2.8 points.

A breakdown of the overall rating based on monthly income showed that individuals who earn less than NT$20,000 gave a rating of 2.6 points, while those who earn NT$60,000 and above gave it a rating of 3.1 points.

Of the 34 subjects covered in the six categories, freedom of abode and movement received the highest score of 3.9, followed by the right to vote and religious freedom, which both received 3.8 points.

Respondents — especially those residing in the south, east and outlying islands — showed particular dissatisfaction with vote-buying during elections, which garnered 2.5 points.

Asked whether the government has protected people’s rights to join protests and assembly, respondents gave it a low score of 2.9.

Government protection of the rights of the disabled also received the same low score.

Under the personal freedom and legal protection category, respondents expressed their dissatisfaction when asked whether prosecutors have acted in a legal manner when collecting evidence for indictment, rating it at 2.9 points, the survey showed.

On judicial issues, respondents gave 2.5 points to the question of the extent that people can seek remedies for a judicial decision.

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