Tue, Mar 22, 2005 - Page 3 News List

Human rights group chief arrives in Taiwan today

By Ko Shu-ling  /  STAFF REPORTER

Secretary-General of the International Commission of Jurists (ICJ) Nicholas Howen is scheduled to arrive in Taipei today for a 24-hour visit to assess progress toward the long-delayed enactment of the human rights act, the Taipei Times learned yesterday.

Howen is the ICJ's 9th secretary-general and its second from the Asia-Pacific region. He is an Australian international human rights lawyer who holds degrees in law and arts from the University of New South Wales in Australia.

The ICJ is a Geneva-based non-governmental organization dedicated to the coherence and implementation of international law and principles that advance human rights.

Under the government's draft bill, which is an integrated version of the proposals drafted by the Presidential Office's human-rights advisory group and the Ministry of Justice, the death penalty should be abolished, but in a piecemeal fashion.

Until the ultimate goal is achieved, the Cabinet's draft states that executions for those under the age of 18 and pregnant women should be prohibited.

In addition, capital punishment should only be used on those committing the most hideous, violent crimes.

The Cabinet draft also allows homosexuals to form families and adopt children. It also stipulates that everyone should have the right to vote on public policy, legislation and constitutional issues through referendums.

To prevent and minimize the negative impact of inappropriate human-rights measures or legislation, the Cabinet's draft states that the government should establish a human-rights impact-assessment system and make public human rights reports on a regular basis.

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