The Executive Yuan is scheduled to approve a proposed transitional justice bill for Aborigines on Thursday before submitting it to the Legislative Yuan for review, Minister Without Portfolio Lin Wan-yi (林萬億) said on Saturday.
The proposed bill, titled “the Aboriginal historical justice and restitution act,” represents a personal victory for Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Legislator Tuan Yi-kang (段宜康), who is convener of the legislature’s Judiciary and Organic Laws and Statutes Committee.
In December last year, Tuan vowed that he would within six months either see the nation pass a transitional justice bill dedicated to people of Aboriginal descent or resign his seat as a lawmaker.
His pledge was a response to the Act on Promoting Transitional Justice (促進轉型正義條例), which was passed by the legislature on Dec. 5 last year and has been criticized for failing to address Aborigines’ historical grievances.
The Cabinet’s timetable for the proposed transitional justice bill for Aborigines would likely result in its passage into law before Tuan’s self-imposed six-month deadline expires, sources said.
The bill stipulates the establishment of a Cabinet-level committee for investigating the historical injustices suffered by Taiwanese Aborigines, Lin said.
The committee is to compile a report on historical facts concerning violations of the rights of Aborigines, as well as proposals for protecting Aboriginal land ownership and making restitutions, he said.
Some officials opposed the proposed bill’s provisions for a separate Aboriginal transitional justice committee, but Lin pushed the proposal on the grounds that a dedicated body is necessary to resolve the contentious issue.
The Council of Indigenous Peoples in March briefed DPP lawmakers who were on the Organic Laws and Statutes Committee.
Differences of opinion persist over how much time should be allotted to the proposed committee’s fact-finding mission, with the draft bill stipulating four years, while some lawmakers say it should be two years, Lin said.
The government is working with lawmakers to reach a consensus for the timetable, he added.
The proposed bill would address Aborigines’ historical grievances dating to the Japanese colonial era, predating the White Terror era, which is the main scope of the Act on Promoting Transitional Justice, Lin said.
Additionally, the proposed bill would tackle the government’s failure to create an indigenous peoples’ land investigation and management committee, a body mandated by the Indigenous Peoples Basic Act (原住民族基本法), he said.
The Executive Yuan’s intention in drafting the bill was addressing lawmakers’ demands for such legislation, and it was not a specific response to Tuan’s pledge, an official familiar with the issue said on condition of anonymity.
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