Tue, Feb 05, 2013 - Page 3 News List

Lawmakers voice concerns over human rights review

By Chris Wang and Stacy Hsu  /  Staff reporter and staff writer, with CNA

Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) lawmakers and human rights groups yesterday raised concerns over the government’s response to an upcoming review of Taiwan’s human rights report by a UN panel.

A group of international experts is scheduled to review Taiwan’s compliance with the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights between Feb. 25 and Feb. 27, almost four years after the nation ratified the covenants.

“[The] government’s compliance with the covenants will be scrutinized by the panel and we are not optimistic about the results,” Covenants Watch covener Kao Yung-cheng (高涌誠) told a press conference jointly organized by several human rights groups and DPP lawmakers Yu Mei-nu (尤美女), Tuan Yi-kang (段宜康), Cheng Li-chiun (鄭麗君), Chen Chieh-ju (陳節如) and Wu Yi-chen (吳宜臻).

The panel had submitted its initial list of issues, which contained 124 questions, after reviewing government reports and information provided by civic groups last month, Kao said.

The issues raised included monopolization of the media, Aboriginal rights, housing, nuclear waste, environmental protection, labor and migrant workers’ rights, as well as the death penalty and judicial rights, Kao said.

The concluding observation presented by the panel of experts will be critical for how the international community views Taiwan’s human rights development, he added.

The groups and DPP lawmakers called for President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九), Vice President Wu Den-yih (吳敦義) and Premier-designate Jiang Yi-huah (江宜樺) to take the review seriously and demanded all government agencies actively and honestly respond to the issues raised.

They also asked the government be transparent in its response to those issues.

Ma’s determination to fully comply with the covenants has been questioned because he has yet to appoint an official to take charge of the review meeting, Kao said.

Huang Yu-yuan (黃玉垣), deputy director-general of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs’ Department of Legal System, said the entire process would be open and transparent.

“All details of the report will be made public, but a delay may occur in the publication of the government’s replies to the review committee’s [124 human rights-related questions] as these questions pertain to the administrative discretions of various government agencies and have to be translated into English,” Huang said.

The ministry said it hoped the report’s review process would go smoothly, as it could have a positive impact on the country.

Liang Guang-chung (梁光中), deputy director-general of the ministry’s Department of Treaty and Legal Affairs, said the government gave great weight to the review of its human rights report and would provide positive feedback to the review committee’s comments in a bid to demonstrate the efforts Taiwan had made to push ahead with the core values of the two covenants.

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