Amnesty International Report 2014/15 - The State of the World's Human Rights - Taiwan

Taiwan
Head of state: Ma Ying-jeou
Head of government: Ma Chi-kuo (replaced Jiang Yi-huah in December)

While Taiwan took further steps to implement international human rights standards, serious concerns remained. Notable among these were the right to freedom of peaceful assembly, the death penalty, torture and other ill-treatment, housing and land rights, and gender discrimination.

International scrutiny

International groups of independent experts reviewed national reports on the implementation of the ICCPR and ICESCR in February 2013 and CEDAW in June 2014. In September the government pledged to amend 228 laws and regulations to comply with CEDAW. Laws were enacted to implement the Convention on the Rights of the Child and the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities by 2017.

Freedom of assembly

From 18 March to 10 April, hundreds of students and other activists occupied the Legislative Yuan (Parliament) to protest against a trade deal with China.1 On 23 March, a group of protesters forced their way into the Executive Yuan (Cabinet) complex, and a crowd gathered in the surrounding areas. The police used excessive force while dispersing them. To date there has been no independent and impartial investigation into the police conduct.

Over several subsequent months, over 200 protesters were summoned for questioning under the Criminal Code and Assembly and Parade Act; they remained under threat of prosecution. At least 46 people who suffered injuries during the protests filed a series of private criminal lawsuits against the Premier and high-ranking police officers. By the end of the year, however, courts had declined to hear two of these cases on the grounds that they were too similar to one already under court review.

Death penalty

Little progress was made towards the abolition of the death penalty as Taiwan continued to impose death sentences and carry out executions.2 In June the death sentence was abolished for two crimes related to kidnapping, but 55 offences remained punishable by death.

Torture and other ill-treatment

In January, Taiwan abolished its military court system during peacetime, including military prisons. This followed the death of Corporal Hung Chung-chiu in a military disciplinary detention facility in July 2013.3 In March, a civilian court of first instance convicted 13 military officers of Hung Chung-chiu’s death, sentencing them to between three and eight months’ imprisonment; five others were acquitted.

Prison conditions

Overcrowding, unsanitary conditions and lack of adequate medical care remained serious problems in prisons and detention centres. An amendment to the Prison Camp Act, aimed at addressing prison overcrowding by expanding the use of minimum security prisons, was enacted in June.

Housing rights – forced evictions

Conflicts over housing and land rights continued to increase due to rising land prices and economic inequality. In July, the land expropriation for the Taoyuan Aerotropolis project, affecting an estimated 46 ,000 people, passed a key planning hurdle, despite concerns of inadequate consultation with residents as well as the indictment of a key official for related corruption.

Indigenous Peoples’ rights

Concerns were raised about the use of traditional lands of Indigenous Peoples for tourism-related development.

Rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex people

Amendments to the Civil Code that would enshrine marriage equality stalled in the Legislative Yuan.

The Ministry of Interior failed to put into effect the Ministry of Health’s recommendation that genital surgery and psychiatric evaluation should no longer be needed to change one’s gender.

  1. Taiwan: Restraint urged in protests over China trade deal (Press release) www.amnesty.org/en/for-media/press-releases/taiwan-restraint-urged-protests-over-china-trade-deal-2014-03-19
  2. Taiwan: Amnesty International condemns the execution of five people (ASA 38/002/2014) www.amnesty.org/en/library/info/ASA38/002/2014/en
  3. Taiwan government must ensure the reform of military criminal procedure legislation lives up to its promise of greater accountability (ASA 38/001/2014) www.amnesty.org/en/library/info/ASA38/001/2014/en