Taiwanese in Norway to take nationality case to human rights court

12/01/2020 06:26 PM
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Image taken from the My Name My Right campaign
Image taken from the My Name My Right campaign's YouTube channel

Berlin and Taipei, Dec. 1 (CNA) A group of overseas Taiwanese in Norway is taking a case on their national identity to the European Court of Human Rights next year, after Norway's Supreme Court rejected their appeal to change their listed nationality from "China" to "Taiwan."

Joseph Liu, a Taiwanese lawyer living in Norway, told CNA on Monday that he plans to file the case with the European Court of Human Rights in the first half of 2021.

According to Liu, one of the initiators of the movement "My Name, My Right," he and his group plan to hire lawyers from the United Kingdom and France, who know European law and are also presumed to have better knowledge of Asia, to represent them.

The planned suit stemmed from the group's failed attempt to force the Norwegian government to change the nationality of local Taiwanese residents on their residency permits through the legal process.

Norway first changed the nationality shown on their residency permits from "Taiwan" to "China" in 2010, a move seen as an attempt to appease Beijing after the Nobel Peace Prize was awarded to Chinese dissident Liu Xiaobo (劉曉波) that same year, according to the Taiwanese lawyer.

In 2018, 10 Taiwanese students launched a fundraising campaign in Taiwan to fund their lawsuit against Norwegian authorities, including its Directorate of Immigration, and collected more than NT$3 million (US$104,200) for the effort.

They used the funds to file cases asking that their listed nationality be changed all the way to Norway's Supreme Court, but the Norwegian courts all rejected their plea, citing the "one China" policy.

Norway has diplomatic relations with China and does not recognize Taiwan, whose official name is the Republic of China, as a sovereign country.

Liu told CNA that the group still has about NT$1 million and US$30,000 of funds that can be used for a lawsuit in the European Court of Human Rights.

He said Norway is a signatory of the European Convention on Human Rights, which stipulates that a complainant can take a case to the European Court of Human Rights after all domestic remedies have been exhausted.

He argued that Taiwanese citizens do not hold any personal identification documents issued by China, and therefore listing Taiwanese nationals as Chinese does not conform to the facts and violates Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights.

Another goal of the legal action will be to raise public awareness in Europe of Taiwan's predicament in the international community and the threat to democracy posed by authoritarian regimes, Liu said.

At a briefing Tuesday, Taiwan Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Joanne Ou (歐江安) urged Norwegian authorities to "view the issue seriously and correct its errors," citing Article 15 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and Article 6 of the European Convention on Human Rights.

The two articles say respectively that everyone has the right to a nationality and everyone is entitled to the right to a fair trial.

She said the ministry respects Liu's decision to take the case to the European Court of Human Rights.

(By Lin Yu-li and Emerson Lim)

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