US rights report mixed on Taiwan

Staff writer, with CNA

Sat, May 26, 2012 - Page 3

A human rights report released on Thursday by the US Department of State was generally positive about the situation in Taiwan last year, but said corruption and violence against women and children remained prevalent problems in the country.

In the areas of respect for personal integrity, freedom of speech and the press, civil and political rights, and implementing penalties for official corruption, Taiwan received a positive review in the Country Reports on Human Rights Practices for 2011. It said the 2008 presidential election in Taiwan was regarded by international observers as “free and fair” and that independent media in the country “was active and expressed a wide variety of views without restriction.”

Government authorities were also said to be “cooperative and responsive” to the views of human rights groups, which the report said were generally free to investigate and publish their findings on human rights cases.

It also said the rights of prisoners and detainees were protected and there were no reports of authorities using violence against accused people. Authorities generally adhered to the rule against arbitrary arrest and detention, it said.

The annual report also documented authorities positively enforcing laws to protect the equality of Taiwanese.

For example, the law which prohibits discrimination against people with disabilities is enforced, it said.

However, it also highlighted the problem of corruption in Taiwan, saying more than 400 officials were indicted on corruption charges in the past year, including 54 high-ranking officials.

In addition, it said the judicial system in Taiwan “suffered from some corruption.”

The impartiality of judges and prosecutors involved in high-profile and politically sensitive cases was being questioned by some political commentators and academics, the report said.

Child abuse also continued to be a “widespread problem,” according to the report. It cited an NGO estimate of 20,000 cases per year of child sexual abuse.

In addition, the report said violence against women, such as rape and domestic violence, “remained a serious problem” in Taiwan. It said the Ministry of the Interior estimated that the actual number of sexual assault cases was 10 times more than what was reported to the police.

The report also said that foreign spouses in Taiwan face discrimination inside and outside of their homes. Forced labor was found in sectors such as caregiving, farming, fishing, manufacturing and construction, it said.