The Legislative Yuan yesterday ratified the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights 42 years after the nation signed the two UN treaties in 1967.
The legislature also approved the Act Governing Execution of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (公民與政治權利國際公約及經濟社會文化權利國際公約施行法), giving the two international covenants legally binding force in Taiwan.
The act states that government agencies on all levels should protect human rights and requires the government to establish a human rights reporting mechanism in accordance with the two conventions.
Although the nation’s then-ambassador to the UN Liu Chieh (劉鍇) signed the two covenants on behalf of the government on Oct. 5, 1967, the two covenants had never been validated by the legislature.
The Executive Yuan had referred the two covenants to the legislature in a bid to promote the nation’s human rights standards after President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) in February pushed for the ratification of the two human rights conventions.
Meanwhile, the legislature also passed a proposed amendment to the Employment Insurance Act (就業保險法) to allow the Council of Labor Affairs to extend the eligibility period for unemployment subsidies from six months to a maximum of 12 months in accordance with the unemployment rate.
Lawmakers also agreed to allow employees on parental leave to apply for subsidies to care for children under three years of age. Applicants will be able to receive the subsidies, which are limited to one subsidy per couple, for a maximum of six months.
The amendment sets the subsidy at 60 percent of an employee’s average insured salary six months prior to the application.
Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Legislator Huang Sue-ying (黃淑英), who had been pushing the bills, said their passage was meaningful and would help ensure social stability.
DPP Legislator Huang Wei-cher (黃偉哲) described the bills as the government’s “small presents” to the unemployed, adding that the bills were also expected to reduce discrimination against pregnant women.
The legislature yesterday also approved a proposal by Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Legislator Shyu Jong-shyoung (徐中雄) that would allow employees over the age of 60 to apply for retirement.
It also passed an amendment to the Income Tax Act (所得稅法) to impose a 10 percent tax rate on individuals who earn profits from interest on short-term transaction instruments, securities, government bonds or corporate bonds. The regulation will take effect on Jan. 1 next year.
The Presidential Office yesterday expressed gratitude for the legislature’s ratification of the two UN conventions, saying it showcased the smooth cooperation between the government and the KMT.
Presidential Office Spokesman Wang Yu-chi (王郁琦) said the two conventions had been sent to the legislature for approval several times since 2001.
That they were passed yesterday highlighted another achievement in the administration’s efforts to protect human rights, he said.
Wang said that before the two treaties go into effect in Taiwan, the president would like to see government agencies conduct a thorough examination of existing laws and regulations in a bid to advance the implementation of the two conventions.
ADDITIONAL REPORTING BY KO SHU-LING