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Taiwan publishes its first human rights report

2012/04/20 17:01:30

Taipei, April 20 (CNA) Taiwan on Friday released its first human rights report based on United Nations covenants, marking another milestone in the nation's efforts to adhere to international standards.

The report is a step forward in the improvement of human rights after Taiwan passed two U.N. human rights covenants three years ago, President Ma Ying-jeou said at a press conference.

He was referring to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights.

The 200-plus page Chinese-language human rights report reviewed a wide range of rights issues in Taiwan, such as gender ratios, welfare budgets and the death penalty.

For example, the report said the public's expectation of keeping the death penalty on the law books is not in line with human rights trends.

The government has been striving to address that issue, the report said, citing a 67.4 percent drop in the number of death sentences handed down in the last decade compared with the period 1992-2001.

It also gave details of certain controversial death penalty cases andthe measures taken to avoid recurrence of similar cases.

However, Ma said, "this is not a time for us to be satisfied."

Pointing out that many practices in Taiwan still deviate from international standards, the president urged government agencies to set an example by enhancing civics education among public servants.

The report will be translated into English in due time to facilitate access by experts worldwide, he said.

A human rights report will be published each year to ensure continued improvement, the president said.

On the question of the death penalty, Ma said "Taiwanese still have doubts about the matter and further communication is needed."

However, he said his administration is working toward reducing the number of crimes that are punishable by death.

Unless there is an amendment to the law, the death penalty will remain, he said, but acknowledged that the international community has conveyed concerns to him on the issue.

The abolition of capital punishment takes time, he said, pointing to examples in various European countries.

As to whether he thinks human rights should form part of the negotiations between Taiwan and China, he said the issue will be raised if the situation calls for it.

For example, he said, the rights of Taiwanese businessmen based in China could be brought up in the cross-strait negotiations on an investment protection agreement.

That would be a good opportunity for both sides to exchange opinions on human rights protection, said Ma.

(By Nancy Liu)