TAIPEI TIMES REPORTS CONFUSING HUMAN RIGHTS SCENE IN TAIWAN
By Kevin Stoda
A little over a week ago, the world recognized the international day of human rights (December 10). The reports the following day in local Taiwanese media concerning progress on human rights were amazingly mixed. On the one hand, the once martial-law dominated land officially opened a Human Rights Commission sponsored by the Office of the president.
Most fascinatingly, the President of Taiwan, Ma Ying-jeou, in his address to mark the Human Rights Day and the creation of the new Human Rights Commision through his office , noted, " "It is governments that do harm to human rights most easily. The governments have authority, and civil servants are the ones who exercise such rights. Power corrupts, and all civil servants should bear those words in mind and prevent the violation of human rights," Ma said as he addressed the commission at the Presidential Office.
I sure wish the United States and China would make such statements about government officials--and consider even going so far as to support Wikileaks efforts to aid whistle-blowing government officials globally.
GOVERNMENTS DO MOST HARM TO HUMAN RIGHTS
This official attack on all governments and civil servants everywhere by the Taiwanese president certainly sounded remarkable to me. (The president grounded his statement by basing it on his own claims to have been victim of a civil servant-led witch hunt and vendetta when he served as the mayor of Taipei some years ago.) On the other hand, both the s president and the Taiwanese government were being protested against both inside and outside the room where his speech was given that December 10, 2010.
You see, dating back to the 1970s, repeatedly claims have been made that the now-President, Ma Ying-jeou, was a collaborator and spy for the formerly fascist regimes in Taiwan and abroad, e.g. including in the USA where Ma Ying-jeou has studied many years.
Worse still, it has been reported that " [i]n June 2009, the anniversary of the Tiananmen Square protests of 1989 in Beijing, a leader of the Chinese democracy movement and the then student leader Wang Dan " had "visited Taiwan as in previous years to meet up with Ma about human rights and democracy in China. However, Ma postponed the appointment three times and eventually cancelled the appointment with Wang. In a press meeting with DPP Chairwoman Tsai Ing-wen, Wang Dan spoke of how it has become more difficult to see "President Ma' in comparison to "Mayor Ma of Taipei City.'"
MEANWHILE, ONE YEAR AFTER ".
" One year after Taiwan unilaterally ratified two UN human rights covenants, non-governmental organizations (NGO) yesterday said the government had not done enough to implement them. . . . The International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights were ratified by the legislature and signed by President Ma Ying-jeou in March and May respectively last year."
The group condemning the lack of progress in modern Taiwan is called Covenants Watch. " In a report released to coincide with Human Rights Day . . . ., the non-profit Covenants Watch, an umbrella organization created to monitor human rights in Taiwan, said government efforts to implement the covenants were under-funded and disorganized."
"In the 80-page report signed by 42 groups, Covenants Watch said public servants had not been properly educated on the covenants and said that progress to implement the required changes in government agencies were well behind schedule. "There wasn't enough preparation, the implementation has been a mess and progress has fallen behind,' said Judicial Reform Foundation director Lin Feng-jeng one of the signatories."
In addition, "In the report, Covenant Watch recommended that the government set up a special task force to ensure that various agencies comply with the covenants. Additional funding should be given to universities for international human rights research. "
In short, although on paper, Taiwan has improved its human rights standards by joining the rest of the United Nations' signatories over the past two years. However, due to lack of time and due to very inadequate funding things may have continued to get worse in Taiwan since 2009. The most example of this was the recent resumption of capital punishment.
The "Taiwan Association for Human Rights chairman Lin Chia-fan, another signatory of the report, said Taiwan's insistence on carrying out the death penalty, despite a four-year hiatus, violated the spirit of a core provision of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights." After we ratified the two covenants, we were supposed to work toward abolishing the death penalty. Instead, our country has resumed the practice," Lin said.
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