Taiwan has been named the only country in Asia with an open civic space for the fourth straight year by human rights organization Civicus in a report released in Bangkok yesterday.
Civicus released the People Power Under Attack 2022 report under its Civicus Monitor program, an ongoing research collaboration between the group and more than 20 research partner organizations.
The research assessed the extent to which each country protects fundamental rights of freedoms of association, peaceful assembly and expression, as well as policies, laws and practices related to these freedoms.
Photo: grab from twitter.com/CIVICUSMonitor
It rates the civic space of the 197 countries and territories it surveyed as open, narrowed, obstructed, repressed or closed, the report said.
Data collected from Jan. 1 to Dec. 31 last year showed “a serious decline in civic space,” with only 3.2 percent of the global population living in open civic space, while 28.5 percent of the population, approximately 2 billion people, are living in closed civic space, the report said.
In Asia, Taiwan remained the only country rated as open, while civic space in Japan, Mongolia and South Korea was described as narrowed, it said.
Seven Asian countries and territories were rated as closed, up from four in the 2021 report, with Afghanistan, Hong Kong and Myanmar joining China, Laos, North Korea and Vietnam, the report said.
Taiwan has created an environment that allows people to enjoy civil liberties, Josef Benedict, a Civicus researcher on civic space in the Asia-Pacific region, told the Central News Agency.
The rating indicates that people in Taiwan are able to freely protest and assemble, and journalists can work free from restrictions thanks to relatively high press freedom, he said.
Taiwanese authorities allow criticism from civil groups, and create spaces and platforms for people to have dialogues, he added.
While the civic space in the Asia-Pacific region continued to shrink as incidents of repression of protesters and harassment of dissidents increased in several countries last year, Taiwan maintaining an open civic space is “a positive signal” for the region, he said.
Taiwan provides a safe haven for human rights workers, and supports dissents and journalists in the region, he said.
To further enhance the human rights environment, Taiwan can improve working and living conditions for migrant workers, enact laws against abuse and adopt broader regulations to prevent discrimination, he said.
Additional reporting by CNA
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