Philip Alston and Group of Experts Release Final Recommendations after Evaluating Taiwan’s Human Rights Record

Taiwan’s Human Rights Review: Concluding Observations and Recommendations

At the end of February 20013, NYU School of Law Professor Philip Alston was one of a ten-person group of independent experts asked to review the Government of Taiwan’s compliance with the two most important international human rights treaties—the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights.  The Expert Group, appointed by the President of Taiwan, also included NYU professor Jerome Cohen, a renowned expert in Chinese law.  Other members were: Nisuke Ando (Japan); Virginia Bonoan-Dandan (the Philippines); Theodor van Boven (the Netherlands); Shanthi Dairiam (Malaysia); Asma Jahangir (Pakistan); Manfred Nowak (Austria); Eibe Riedel (Germany); and Heisoo Shin (South Korea).

Although not a member of the United Nations—and thus unable to ratify these treaties under UN auspices—Taiwan took the initiative in 2009 to ‘ratify’ them as a matter of domestic law, and followed up in 2013 by subjecting itself to the same sort of scrutiny that other governments undergo by reporting to UN bodies such as the Human Rights Committee and the Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights.

After a lengthy preparatory process, followed by three days of public hearings in Taipei, the Experts presented the government with its report on March 1, 2013.  The Experts met with the President and Vice-President of Taiwan at both the beginning and the end of their week-long stay in Taipei.  In their evaluation, the Experts recognized the huge progress that Taiwan has made in recent years in the human rights field and made wide-ranging recommendations, including the following:

  • A moratorium on the death penalty in Taiwan;
  • The establishment of an independent national human rights commission;
  • More targeted measures of transitional justice in relation to the past;
  • Comprehensive legislative and practical measures to promote gender equality;
  • Steps to improve the situation of indigenous peoples and migrant workers;
  • Recognition of a crime of torture in the Criminal Code;
  • Reduction in the prison population; and ,
  • Measures to improve the treatment of detainees and the overall administration of justice.

The full text of the Experts Recommendations can be found here.

News coverage of the event can be found here.