European Economic and Trade Office in Taiwan

EU Annual Report on Human Rights and Democracy in the World 2018 Country Updates on Taiwan

15/05/2019 - 10:09
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Overview of the human rights and democracy situation in Taiwan


The EU has adopted the 2018 Annual Report on Human Rights and Democracy in the world on 13 May 2019.

Below is the overview of the human rights and democracy situation in Taiwan.


1. Overall human rights situation: Taiwan's human rights situation remains fairly good in comparison with the rest of the region. Drafting of legislation for establishment of a National Human Rights Institution started in 2018. The newly amended Company Act raised awareness of corporate social responsibility. However, the situation has deteriorated in three specific areas. Firstly, on death penalty; where the execution of death row inmate Li Hung-chi on 31 August put an end to the de facto moratorium since May 2016. Secondly, LGBTI rights, where three referenda presented by anti-LGBTI groups to limit marriage rights to only different-sex couples and restrict teaching about LGBTI at schools passed the legal threshold on 24 November 2018. Thirdly, on migrant workers' rights several cases of poor working conditions and abuses of migrant fishery and domestic workers were reported.

2. EU action - key focus areas: First EU-Taiwan Human Rights Consultations took place on 22 March 2018 in Taipei, where key human rights issues of mutual concern were discussed.

2018 EU-Taiwan Judicial Exchange Programme was co-hosted by the European Economic and Trade Office (EETO) with Germany, France and UK Offices on 26-29 March 2018. Four international experts took part, with a focus on the abolition of the death penalty, and other human rights issues. They met judges, prosecutors, legislators and NGOs during seminars and official visits to exchange best practices. Regular meetings with human rights NGOs were organised by the EETO, including preparing bilateral EU-Taiwan Consultations and review how to push forward human rights progress. On 10 December 2018, International Human Rights Day, an op-ed signed by the Head of the EETO and 18 Member States' and Like-minded HoMs was published in both Mandarin and English by the Apple Daily and the Taipei Times, highlighting the 70th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the progress made and areas which need improvement. Head of the EETO attended the opening event of a workshop to discuss the establishment of the Asian Human Rights Court Simulation held in Taipei on 6-7 October 2018. The workshop was conducted successfully with the conclusion to have the first Court Simulation held in Taipei in July 2019. EETO has provided support for the publication of Taiwan Human Rights Journal by the Chang Fo-Chuan Centre for the Study of Human Rights at the Soochow University. The Journal is the only academic human rights publication in the Chinese speaking world. It is influential as it shapes the human rights narrative in the academic circles, and has become one of the sources of reference for Taiwanese government officials on human rights related matters.

On 31 August 2018 the HRVP spokesperson issued a statement on the execution of Li Hung-chi, where the EU's position against the death penalty was reiterated, with a call on the Taiwanese authorities to immediately reintroduce a moratorium on the death penalty. The EETO coordinated and carried out a joint demarche on the execution of death row inmate Li Hung-chi with EU Member States and like-minded countries on 27 September 2018. On 8 October 2018, Head of the EETO attended a press conference for the World/European Day against the Death Penalty hosted by the Taiwan Alliance to End the Death Penalty (TAEDP) to express again the disappointment towards the execution carried out on 31 August 2018, and to call on the Taiwanese authorities to reintroduce a moratorium on the death penalty. From June 2018 to May 2019, the EETO has supported the Taiwan Alliance to End the Death Penalty (TAEDP) to conduct 30 public deliberation sessions on the alternatives to the death penalty across Taiwan. This initiative has raised awareness and increased public debates on the possible alternatives to replace the death penalty.

A short video about Mr. Chi Chia-wei, the first person in Taiwan to come out as gay on national television, was co-produced by the EETO and the Taiwan Tongzhi Hotline and released on 3 October 2018 as part of the EEAS Human Rights Defender video campaign. This video tells the story behind his fight for marriage equality for the past 32 years. To show support and commitment of the EU to the protection of LGBTI rights, the EETO participated in the annual Taiwan Pride Parade, the largest of its kind in Asia, with more than 137,000 people attending this year. Around 60 people from 16 MS and like-minded offices joined the Delegation's parade group, making it the largest foreign office group. Op-ed articles for the International Day against Homophobia in May and the Taiwan Pride Parade in October were co-signed by Head of the EETO with Heads of Missions from MS and like-minded countries and published in both Mandarin Chinese and English in local newspapers. In December 2018, the EETO coordinated a discussion meeting with pro-LGBTI NGOs to gather information on their thoughts and next steps after the referendum results, which limited marriage rights in the Civil Code to only between different-sex couples and restricted teaching about LGBTI in primary and secondary schools.

3. EU bilateral engagement: The EU Delegation remains in close contact with the Ministry of Justice, the Department of Gender Equality in the Executive Yuan, the Judicial Yuan, and other relevant government agencies in charge of human rights related issues. The first bilateral Human Rights Consultations on 22 March 2018 established a mechanism for such dialogues to take place annually in order to share experiences and best practices, as well as to review and follow up on all human rights issues of mutual concern.

4. EU financial engagement: In 2018, the EU, in line with its global human rights priorities,  organised, hosted, promoted or supported events and initiatives to improve Taiwan's human rights situations, with collaboration of the NGOs and civil society. These activities have resulted in increased public awareness and enhanced exchanges between the EU and Taiwan, both with the government agencies and the NGOs.

5. Multilateral context: Although Taiwan is not a member of the United Nations it has voluntarily incorporated the provisions of six of the UN’s nine human rights treaties into its domestic laws. In 2012 and 2017, Taiwan drafted implementation reports on five of the treaties and invited panels of international experts consisting of former UN human rights rapporteurs, international court judges and renowned academics to review these reports. Observations and recommendations were provided by the panel after each review. NGOs are invited to participate in the Presidential Office Human Rights Consultative Committee to follow up and make sure necessary actions are taken and progress is made according to the observations and recommendations of the international panel.


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