Rights groups hail ratification of UN pacts

2009-04-02 Taipei Times

By Loa Iok-sin

Human rights groups yesterday welcomed the legislature’s ratification of two UN human rights conventions on Tuesday — 42 years after their signing — and called on the government to turn the treaties into national policy.

“The Taiwan Association for Human Rights welcomes the ratification of the two important international treaties on human rights,” association secretary-general Tsai Chi-hsun (蔡季勳) said, adding that the ratification was a milestone in the campaign to improve human rights protection.

Tsai was referring to the legislature ratifying the International Convention of Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) and the International Convention of Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, and adopting the Act Governing Execution of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (公民與政治權利國際公約及經濟社會文化權利國際公約施行法).

Then-ambassador to the UN Liu Chieh (劉鍇) signed the two covenants on Oct. 5, 1967, but the legislature only validated them on Tuesday.

Taiwan Alliance to End the Death Penalty executive director Lin Hsin-yi (林欣怡) hailed the ratification, but said the government had to turn the treaties into policies.

“Article 6 of the ICCPR says that in countries with the death penalty, the penalty can only applied to the most serious crimes,” Lin said. “Under international practice, ‘most serious crimes’ refer to those that violate other people’s right to life.”

In Taiwan, drug trafficking and gang rape are punishable by death.

Tsai said the Cabinet’s proposed amendments to the Assembly and Parade Act (集會遊行法) would violate articles 21 and 22 of the ICCPR, which state: “the right of peaceful assembly shall be recognized. No restrictions may be placed on the exercise of this right,” except for in cases when national interest, public security and public heath may be threatened.

Meanwhile, Tsai said he doubted the government was sincere about enforcing the treaties, since a clause in the draft of the law stipulating that the law would take effect upon its passage was changed to “the date that the law takes effect shall be decided by the Executive Yuan.”
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