Thu, Jun 30, 2016 - Page 4 News List

Activists plan housing tribunal

EVICTED:In 2009 the Legislative Yuan recognized the ICESCR, but international activists are urging stricter adherence to the treaty concerning urban development projects

By Abraham Gerber  /  Staff reporter

Plans to hold a housing rights opinion court with international activists were announced yesterday by local civic groups as part of efforts to spur implementation of the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR).

A consortium of civic groups including the Taiwan Alliance Against Forced Evictions, the Environmental Jurists Association, the Taiwan Association for Human Rights and the Taiwan Rural Front said that they would host an East Asia panel of the International Tribunal on Evictions as part of a series of events, starting on Saturday with a tribunal at Taipei’s former Huaguang (華光) community site, which was demolished in 2013.

Housing rights are enshrined in the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, which was passed by the Legislative Yuan in 2009.

Saturday’s tribunal panel is to include Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Legislator Frida Tsai (蔡培慧), Taoyuan District Court Judge Sun Kian-ti (孫建智) and three international activists from Italy, Tunisia and Indonesia.

The group is to review eight eviction cases from across East Asia, including evictions of allegedly illegal residents on government-owned land in Taipei and land repartition for development associated with the Taoyuan Aerotropolis development project.

“This tribunal is important because the many eviction cases under [former president] Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) had common legal roots, but we have not seen any timetable for reform since [President] Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) has come to power,” tribunal preparation committee member Yen-Tung Lin (林彥彤) said, adding that there are few legal options for those facing eviction.

“Administrative courts only review whether administrative process was followed — not the quality of the process, so it does not matter how many people attended hearings or whether residents feel they were consulted — as long as hearings were completed, the case is closed,” he said, adding that the Legislative Yuan has failed to pass legislation implementing a 2013 Council of Grand Justices ruling that struck down portions of the Urban Renewal Act (都市更新條例) as unconstitutional.

The ruling found that current laws breach procedural justice by failing to establish an appropriate body for conducting reviews of urban renewal plans, while also failing to guarantee that those affected are notified and provided with an opportunity to voice their opinions.

“The national government has not had the motivation to push major reforms because it wants to minimize civic participation for the sake of administrative convenience,” he said, adding that the nation has failed to implement ICESCR housing rights, particularly in cases where residents are forced off government-owned land.

“The situation is even worse if you do not have property rights, because there is no consideration of housing rights,” he said, adding that there is typically no legal relief available for those evicted from government-owned land, with the government under no obligation to provide alternate housing.

Chen Chih-hsiao (陳致曉), spokesman for a self-help association of residents affected by plans to appropriate land to move Tainan’s railway line underground, said that resident’s believed that city plans sought to use developments on appropriated land to offset construction costs, raising questions on the objectivity of a city review.

This story has been viewed 587 times.

Comments will be moderated. Remarks containing abusive and obscene language, personal attacks of any kind or promotion will be removed and the user banned.

TOP top