Sat, Dec 11, 2010 - Page 3 News List

Human Rights Day: Little action on UN human rights covenants: NGOs

MOVING BACKWARDS?Critics say implementation has been disorganized and under-funded, and Taiwan has resumed executions, which it is required to abolish

By Vincent Y. Chao  /  Staff Reporter

One year after Taiwan unilaterally ratified two UN human rights covenants, non-governmental organizations (NGO) yesterday said the government had not done enough to implement them.

In a report released to coincide with Human Rights Day yesterday, the non-profit Covenants Watch, an umbrella organization created to monitor human rights in Taiwan, said government efforts to implement the covenants were under-funded and disorganized.

The International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights were ratified by the legislature and signed by President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) in March and May respectively last year.

In the 80-page report signed by 42 groups, Covenants Watch said public servants had not been properly educated on the covenants and said that progress to implement the required changes in government agencies were well behind schedule.

“There wasn’t enough preparation, the implementation has been a mess and progress has fallen behind,” said Judicial Reform Foundation director Lin Feng-jeng (林峰正), one of the signatories.

Members pointed to a lack of funding to promote the covenants, saying the government had only budgeted NT$3.86 million (US$128,000) for this year and next. The figure, the groups said, was even lower than the NT$5 million set aside to promote corporate responsibility and clean government.

“Funding needed for implementing the two covenants should be prioritized,” Lin said, adding that he government hadn’t paid enough attention to -ensuring that articles were carried out to the full.

Furthermore, the Executive Yuan only gave government agencies a preparatory period of seven-and-a-half months last year, Covenant Watch said, adding that it wasn’t enough to ensure they fully understood the covenants.

In the report, Covenant Watch recommended that the government set up a special task force to ensure that various agencies comply with the covenants. Additional funding should be given to universities for international human rights research, it said.

Taiwan Association for Human Rights chairman Lin Chia-fan (林佳範), another signatory of the report, said Taiwan’s insistence on carrying out the death penalty, despite a four-year hiatus, violated the spirit of a core provision of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.

“After we ratified the two covenants, we were supposed to work toward abolishing the death penalty. Instead, our country has resumed the practice,” Lin said.

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