Taiwan, EU hold first-ever human rights consultations
Taipei, March 22 (CNA) Taiwan and the European Union (EU) concluded their first annual human rights consultations in Taipei Thursday, discussing such issues as abolition of the death penalty and promotion of equality for the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTI) community.
The delegation from the EU was led by Mercedes Garcia Perez, head of the Division for Human Rights in the European External Action Service, the union's diplomatic service, while the Taiwan delegation was headed by Minister without Portfolio Lo Ping-chen (羅秉成).
Mercedes Garcia Perez
In a joint press release issued by the European Economic and Trade Office, the EU's representative office in Taiwan, the EU said that consultations were held "in a friendly, open and constructive atmosphere."
The EU commended Taiwan's far-reaching human rights agenda and encouraged Taiwan to actively communicate internationally about its human rights model, the press release said.
According to Taiwan's officials familiar with preparations for the one-day dialogue, which was held at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the abolition of the death penalty and LGBTI rights were raised by the EU.
The two issues are among the EU's priority focuses when it holds human rights dialogues with other countries to advance its founding values.
During the consultation, the EU reiterated its longstanding position that the death penalty has no deterrent effect and is an inhumane form of punishment, according to the statement.
The EU also indicated a willingness to share its experience on moving towards the abolition of capital punishment, it said.
Abolishing the death penalty has been a long-term goal in Taiwan since former president Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) took office in 2008, but his administration broke the moratorium observed from 2006-2009, executing 33 death row inmates from 2010-2016.
Since President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) came to office in May 2016, no executions have been carried out, but Tsai has also avoided taking a position on the issue, except her remark in 2015 that abolition is contingent on social consensus and comprehensive complementary measures.
On LGBTI equality, Taiwan's constitutional court ruled in May 2017 that the Civil Code's prohibition of same-sex marriage violates the constitutional right to "freedom of marriage" and the "right to equality" and instructed the government and the Legislature to address the problem within two years.
Tsai has reaffirmed her campaign pledge to legalize same-sex marriage and to abide by the constitutional ruling, but LGBTI rights supporters have criticized her administration for not more proactively pushing for reform.
The EU congratulated Taiwan for its efforts to strive for more gender equality and establishing a LGBTI friendly environment, the statement said.
On that issue, Taiwan urged the EU to invite more local representatives to attend its related conferences and forums, it said.
At a discussion with young people and NGO workers Thursday night, Garcia Perez said that the EU welcomed the constitutional ruling and is hoping to see the Legislature pass related laws.
Taiwan and the EU also focused on migrant workers' rights, especially those in the fishing industry, domestic and industrial workers, as well as the possibility of establishing a fully-fledged National Human Rights Institution.
EU delegates also met with Taiwanese civil society organizations Wednesday.
Taiwan and the EU agreed to hold a second annual Human Rights Consultation next year in Brussels and to enhance cooperation on the topics raised.
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