Sat, Dec 10, 2005 - Page 2 News List

Rights situation worse now: poll

DETERIORATION The Chinese Association for Human Rights' annual survey found a drop in the nation's human-rights standards, with children's and labor rights lowest of all

By Jean Lin  /  STAFF REPORTER

The results of the 2005 Taiwan Human Rights Indicator Survey, as announced yesterday by the Chinese Association for Human Rights (CAHR), indicate an overall drop in the human-rights situation in the country.

CAHR Chairman Lee Yun-ran (李永然) said that the only noticeable improvement compared to last year was in the judicial-rights category, whereas labor rights and children's rights scored the lowest this year.

The survey included 10 indicators: judicial rights, political rights, economic rights, women's rights, children's rights, elder rights, labor rights, disability rights, environmental rights and education rights.

Political rights rejoined the other indicators this year after being taken out of the survey in 2002 when academics were concerned that political instability at the time may affect the survey's neutrality.

The judicial-rights category targeted three groups -- elites (ie, lawyers, judges and academics), criminals and prisoners, and victims and family. Survey questions dealt with the police and attorney investigation processes, the trial process, and the detention and imprisonment stage.

The convicted-criminals group gave the highest scores to the questions -- 3.62 out of 5, compared with 2.52 last year. This is an indication that their treatment in prison has been improving, said Chen Jung-chuang (陳榮傳), an academic who was in charge of the judicial-rights survey.

Chen said that as of September, the nation's prisons contained more than 60,000 prisoners, or over 7,687 more than they had regulated facilities for. Overcrowding in prisons is a violation of human rights, he said.

In addition, the issue of police threatening suspects into admitting to a crime they did not commit must receive more attention, Chen said.

As for labor rights, the score was 2.41, compared with 2.60 last year. The recent foreign-laborer riots might have been the reason for the low score, said Liu Mei-chun (劉梅君), a professor in charge of the labor-rights indicator.

Liu also said that the respondents expressed dissatisfaction with the government's labor policies, low salaries and wages, as well as age-based biases in the working environment.

Children's rights were another survey focal point, with a score of only 2.73. Recurring child abuse and domestic-violence incidents have contributed to these results, said Peng Shu-hua (彭淑華), an academic overseeing this category.

Although the government has put in an effort to curb domestic violence, the public has yet to see the effects, Peng said.

The CAHR was established in 1979 and has been conducting the annual human-rights indicator survey since 1991. New indicators and categories have been gradually added over the years and each indicator is polled separately.

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