Although the National Human Rights Commission has been in existence for one year, it has not used even half of its budget, and laws governing the enforcement of its authority are not completely in place, the New Power Party (NPP) said yesterday.
The party made the comments as the commission, a unit of the Control Yuan, celebrated the first anniversary of its establishment.
Article 2 of the Organic Act of the National Human Rights Commission (監察院國家人權委員會組織法) lists the functions and powers of the commission, including “investigating incidents involving torture, human rights violations or various forms of discrimination in accordance with its authority or in response to petition from the general public, and provide a remedy according to the law.”
Photo: Hsieh Chun-lin, Taipei Times
However, a report submitted by the commission earlier this month showed that it had only used 46 percent of its budget, most of which was spent on hosting human rights seminars and funding studies, NPP Chairwoman Chen Jiau-hua (陳椒華) said.
The Control Yuan should quickly submit again a draft law governing the exercise of the commission’s power, which it retracted during last year’s legislative session, NPP Legislator Claire Wang (王婉諭) said.
Control Yuan President Chen Chu (陳菊) has said that the commission’s two core tasks are to safeguard human rights in Taiwan and promote human rights education, but so far it had mainly focused on education, she said.
“While we do not belittle the importance of reinforcing human rights education in the country, we want to remind the commission that it should perform all the tasks it is authorized to do,” Wang said.
A number of legislators have proposed amendments to the Constitution that are related to human rights protection, and the organic act has allowed the commission to make policy suggestions based on its understanding of international and domestic human rights issues, she added.
NPP caucus whip Chiu Hsien-chih (邱顯智) said that part of the commission’s responsibilities is to review laws and regulations in the nation and check if they meet human rights standards widely accepted by the international community.
The commission should open a probe into the Executive Yuan’s role in suppressing protests against a proposed service trade agreement with China on March 23, 2014, he said, adding that the government has yet to identify police officers who attacked student protesters.
The commission has not made any suggestion on the proposed amendments to the Assembly and Parade Act (集會遊行法), despite many legal experts saying the act does not adequately protect the rights of protesters, he added.
The NPP has proposed establishing a human rights committee at the Legislative Yuan to ensure that the National Human Rights Commission is consulted during the legislative process, he added.
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