Wed, Aug 10, 2016 - Page 3 News List

China violations make refugee bills urgent: advocate

By Hsiao Ting-fang and William Hetherington  /  Staff reporter, with staff writer

A human rights advocate is pushing for the quick passage of draft bills that would allow Chinese to seek refugee status in Taiwan, amid concerns about the worsening human rights situation in China.

Taiwan Association for China Human Rights chairman Yang Hsien-hung (楊憲宏) on Monday said that while China’s suppression of human rights activists is worsening and there has been a rise in the number of rights violations, Taiwan has no law in place to offer political asylum to Chinese citizens, and Chinese activists are therefore unable to seek refuge in Taiwan.

Yang called on the Executive Yuan to quickly pass a draft refugee law and a draft bill amending Article 17 of the Act Governing Relations Between the People of the Taiwan Area and the Mainland Area (臺灣地區與大陸地區人民關係條), which he hopes will allow victims of political repression in China to seek refugee status in Taiwan.

Yang said that Chinese authorities have in recent years torn down about 2,000 churches and suppressed religious activities.

This, along with a general ramping up of a crackdown on discourse related to freedom and democracy and increasing revocation of fundamental rights, indicates a worsening situation in China, Yang said.

The Legislative Yuan last month passed a preliminary reading of the draft refugee law, which if enacted would allow foreigners and stateless people fleeing from war, natural disasters or political repression to apply for refugee status.

The legislature also passed an initial reading of a draft bill amending Article 17 of the act, which would allow Chinese citizens to apply for refugee status.

“China detains people, so Taiwan has to save people,” Yang said.

Democratic Progressive Party Legislator Yu Mei-nu (尤美女), who has pushed for many years for the approval of the draft refugee bill, said: “As the two draft bills have already passed an initial reading, it should be a simple matter for them to pass two more readings and come into effect.”

“However, after the law is enacted there will still be a one-year buffer period to go through. The steps taken by administrative organs in implementing the law will also be of great importance,” she said.

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