Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) lawmakers are re-proposing a draft bill on refugees.
Lawmakers tabled a draft bill on refugees in the previous legislative session, aiming to address international human rights, but it met opposition from the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) caucus that cost the bill a chance to be discussed and reviewed.
DPP legislators Hsiao Bi-khim (蕭美琴), Tsai Yi-yu (蔡易餘) and Yu Mei-nu (尤美女) have each proposed a version of the draft legislation on refugees, which have been referred for further deliberation in the Internal Administration Committee, and the Foreign Affairs and National Defense Committee.
The Ministry of the Interior in 2005 put forward a draft refugee act, but it failed to secure passage in the legislature.
In the previous legislative session, which commenced in 2012, the Executive Yuan’s version of the draft legislation excluded Chinese and Tibetan refugees seeking asylum from the act. Hsiao and other DPP lawmakers tabled their own version, including such groups of political refugees, but it was not put to committee review.
In 2013, a version of the draft act was proposed by lawmakers across party lines, including KMT Legislator Apollo Chen (陳學聖) and DPP lawmakers. The bill was referred to the committee for review, but the session ended without the bill being put on the review agenda.
Hsiao and Yu have re-proposed the bill, along with Tsai, a newly elected lawmaker.
The three versions tabled by Hsiao, Yu and Tsai are similar, with all three having clear rules on specifying what the act is for, conditions of asylum, how refugees are defined, identification, protection and assistance for refugees, distinction between territorial and extraterritorial asylum, and the establishment of an asylum system.
Hsiao said that although Taiwan is not a member of the UN, as a member of the international community, it should make efforts to shoulder the international responsibility as other nations do, providing persecuted groups with protection, assistance and other humanitarian aid.
Yu has drafted her version of the bill with the assistance of human rights groups, aiming to work with the government in ensuring protection for refugees and stateless people within a fair, effective, appropriate and comprehensive legal framework.
Tsai said in his proposal that as regional conflicts worsen and China’s persecution of dissidents continues, Taiwan is lagging behind in its legal protection for politically persecuted refugees and in supporting immigration measures, having allowed only a few exiled Chinese dissidents to remain in Taiwan as special, one-off cases.
The three lawmakers said that insofar as Taiwan ratified two international human rights conventions in 2009 and the enforcement act was passed in the legislature, it should institutionalize the proposed protection for asylum seekers and thereby fulfill a promise that the nation is to be governed with human rights as a guiding principle.
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