A Parliamentary Cross-Party Group on International Human Rights was set up yesterday, with members of the US, EU, French and UK representative offices attending the inauguration of the group.
The cross-party human rights group was established in November 2012, supported by Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Legislator Yu Mei-nu (尤美女), who was then serving her first term as a legislator-at-large.
The group in the past three years endeavored to work with international human rights organizations and the human rights task forces of other nations’ parliaments, discussing issues such as the abolition of the death penalty, the rights of “comfort women,” judicial reforms and the rescue of Chinese prisoners of conscience, Yu said.
The group is aiming to “raise domestic awareness of human rights” and promote international “parliamentary diplomacy” based on human rights policies and legislation, Yu added.
The universality of human rights should be upheld “and that is why the second paragraph of the first article of the UN Charter stipulates that its purpose is to ‘develop friendly relations among nations based on respect for the principle of equal rights and self-determination of peoples, and to take other appropriate measures to strengthen universal peace,’” she said.
“It is a difficult task for us to continue seeking peace and progress based on respect and the human rights of minority groups,” Yu said.
“Taiwan ratified and passed the implementation of the Convention on the Elimination of All forms of Discrimination Against Women, in 2007, two international covenants on human rights in 2009 and the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities and the Convention on the Rights of the Child in 2014, signaling the nation’s efforts to confrom to international human rights standards,” Yu said.
Legislative Secretary-General Lin Chih-chia (林志嘉) and Vice Minister of Foreign Affairs Leo Lee (李澄然) pledged the full support and cooperation of their respective institutions with the group.
American Institute in Taiwan (AIT) Public Diplomacy Section Chief Joseph Bookbinder said: “In the US context, we have just seen how influential legislators can be in advocating for human rights and holding other branches of government accountable.”
“AIT welcomes your group’s effort to promote dialogue within Taiwan and with international partners on human rights issues, and we look forward to continuing US-Taiwan cooperation to advance shared values globally,” he added.
Bureau Francais de Taipei Director Benoit Guidee said the foundations of the relationship between Taiwan and Europe is “the shared values of democracy and human rights,” adding that the bureau would continue its exchange with Taiwan on human rights issues on both the government and non-governmental levels.
Madeleine Majorenko, head of the European Economic and Trade Office in Taiwan, said she “strongly [believes] that Taiwan’s democratic achievement of the last decade is something that others should aspire to,” describing Taiwan as “one of the friendliest environments for the LGBT [lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender] community in Asia.”
Majorenko said there is still “one area where [the EU and Taiwan] do not see eye to eye,” which is “the issue of the death penalty.”
British Trade and Cultural Office Deputy Director Damion Potter said the office would “continue to work with [Taiwanese] legislators, media and NGOs [non-governmental organizations] on important issues of gender equality, promotion and protection of LGBT rights and the issue of the death penalty.”