Fri, May 11, 2018 - Page 3 News List

Cabinet passes Aboriginal justice bill

INJUSTICE:The bill proposes setting up a committee that would probe infringements of Aboriginal rights through coercive measures and encroachments on their territories

By Sean Lin  /  Staff reporter

The Executive Yuan yesterday approved a draft act to create an Aboriginal historical justice and land surveying committee to probe past injustices and complete a survey of historical Aboriginal territories.

According to the bill, the proposed committee would probe infringements on Aboriginal rights through law, armed assaults or other coercive measures.

Unlike the Act on Promoting Transitional Justice (促進轉型正義條例), which deals with injustices the government perpetrated against people from the end of World War II till the end of the Period of National Mobilization against Communist Rebellion, the proposed act would not set limits on the time frame for such cases.

The Council of Indigenous Peoples provided examples of encroachments on Aboriginal rights, including those committed by Dutch and Spanish invaders, the Dutch East India Co, Cheng Cheng-kung (鄭成功, also known as Koxinga), the Qing Dynasty, the Japanese colonial government, pirates and intruders.

The committee would investigate injustices such as forced relocation; changing Aboriginal culture, political or educational system, or other aspects of their societies; forbidding them from using their own languages; imposing restrictions on their use or management of land, sea and natural resources that are traditionally defined as a part of Aboriginal territories; and other actions that contravene the UN Declarations on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, the International Bill of Human Rights or the Indigenous Peoples’ Basic Act (原住民族基本法).

The proposed act, which is to be forwarded to the Legislative Yuan for review, would require the committee to complete within two years investigations into the aforementioned injustices and to deliver a report to the Executive Yuan detailing the historical context in which an injustice occurred, as well as its perpetrators, decisionmakers and enforcers, and parties that should be held accountable.

It would then have to choose from one or more appropriate measures to address an injustice, such as issuing a public apology; paying compensation; recording newly uncovered facts in historical archives or textbooks; removing or renaming publicly displayed symbols or memorabilia commemorating people or incidents that infringed on Aboriginal rights; and preserving or restoring historic sites where injustices occurred, or designate such sites as cultural heritage sites, the bill says.

The committee is to be composed of 11 to 13 members and would have the same rights as the Transitional Justice Promotion Committee when conducting investigations, it says.

Individuals, groups, organizations or businesses that eschew or reject investigations without legitimate reasons would face a fine of between NT$100,000 and NT$500,000, the bill states.

The bill was drafted to fulfill the goals set by President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) in 2016, when she apologized to Aborigines on behalf of the nation and promised to uncover the truth and promote reconciliation in society, the council said.

Council Minister Icyang Parod told a news conference that the land surveying work assigned to the committee would serve as the reference for the delimitation of traditional Aboriginal territories after a draft Aboriginal land and sea bill is passed by the legislature, which would allow Aboriginal communities to approve or reject any development project in their territories.

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