Fri, Jan 09, 2009 - Page 3 News List

HRW denies any influence at play in removal of Taiwan

By J. Michael Cole  /  STAFF REPORTER

In an e-mail response to an inquiry from the Taipei Times yesterday regarding the removal late last year of Taiwan from its list of countries, New York-based Human Rights Watch (HRW) denied the move was made in response to any pressure.

“The decision to remove Taiwan from the site had nothing whatsoever to do with the Chinese or Taiwanese authorities, nor with any donors,” HRW communications director Emma Daly wrote. “When we relaunched our Web site late last year, we decided to cut back the list of countries to remove those where we’ve done little or no work over the past few years.”

“The only information we had posted on the Taiwan page on the old site were links to two global reports from 2000 and 2001 — one on land mines and one on the use of child soldiers — and a 1989 assessment of human rights in Taiwan. So we decided to cut it from the list of countries we work on,” Daly wrote.

Asked why, in light of signs of a democratic backsliding in Taiwan since the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) came to power in May, HRW had not issued any reports or comments — as other rights watchdogs have done — Daly said: “Human Rights Watch does not work on Taiwan because the abuses there aren’t nearly as acute as they are in many other Asian countries, such as Afghanistan, Burma [Myanmar] or China.”

“Human Rights Watch has finite resources and there are many Asian countries where the human rights situation is appalling. That’s why we don’t carry out rights investigations in, say, Japan or South Korea,” Daly wrote.

HRW nevertheless maintains Web pages for both those countries, Daly said, because they are significant advocacy targets, adding that if they decide to work on Taiwan again, HRW would “certainly restore the link on the new site.”

The organization had no comment on recent developments in Taiwan.

In its 2007 financial statement, the non-profit said it obtains financial support from the public, mainly from individuals and foundations, as well as businesses. It does not seek or accept support from governments or government-funded agencies. Its statement showed US$37.6 million in public contributions and grants for 2007, of which US$2.88 million went toward the Asia program.

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