Thu, Dec 09, 2010 - Page 3 News List

Poll shows pessimism about nation’s rights and freedoms

HUMAN RIGHTS:Respondents to the survey gave Taiwan’s developments in personal freedom and the right to legal protection the lowest rating, dropping from last year

By Flora Wang  /  Staff Reporter

Taiwanese are generally pessimistic about the state of human rights in Taiwan, a survey showed yesterday.

The survey, conducted by Shih Hsin University on behalf of the Taiwan Foundation for Democracy (TFD), polled 1,082 people between Aug. 31 and Sept. 8. Asked to situate overall human rights developments on a scale of one to five, respondents gave the nation 2.82 points, or 56 on a scale of zero to 100.

Respondents gave democracy and freedom 3.11 points on a scale of one to five and 62 points on a scale of zero to 100.

In terms of developments of democracy and freedom in Taiwan, the results represented a 0.15 percentage point decrease from last year.

Among the five different categories of rights and freedoms, freedom of speech and religion enjoyed the best scores, with 3.42 points — a minor improvement from last year, the survey said.

However, on the right to join elections and elect public officials, the results suffered a minor setback, with a score of 3.13 points, down from 3.22 last year.

Developments in personal freedom and the right to legal protection received the worst rating, at 2.73 points, from 3.48 points last year, the survey showed.

Respondents gave a score of 2.06 points on the impartiality of judges, 2.01 points on the independence of the judiciary and 2.53 points on the legitimacy of prosecutors’ evidence gathering and indictment.

On the degree of freedom, the nation scored 28.37 out of 40 in terms of political rights and 43.03 out of 60 in terms of civil rights, the survey said.

Legislative Speaker Wang Jin-pyng (王金平), who doubles as chairman of the TFD, told a press conference at the legislature that the nation’s democracy and freedom had reached a certain standard, but “we still need to make improvements.”

Judicial Reform Foundation director Lin Feng-jeng (林峰正), who participated in the conference, said the public’s impressions of the judiciary must have been affected by a recent series of light sentences for sexual offenders and a number of corruption cases against judges.

Lin called on the legislature and the Judicial Yuan to establish an exit mechanism allowing for the dismissal of incompetent prosecutors and judges by pushing through the long-stalled draft judges’ act.

“The nation’s judiciary remains conservative when it comes to evaluating the system. However, if we do not establish such an exit mechanism, the impartiality of our judiciary will remain in question,” Lin said.

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