Taiwan 2017/2018

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Taiwan 2017/2018

Taiwan’s Constitutional Court ruled that the current marriage law is unconstitutional as it discriminates against same-sex couples. The government held its second review of the implementation of the ICCPR and the ICESCR and its first review regarding the Convention on the Rights of People with Disabilities (CRPD) and the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC). The Supreme Court rejected the Prosecutor-General’s extraordinary appeal for Chiou Ho-shun who remained on death row. From mid-February to early June when they were dispersed, Indigenous people and supporters staged a 100-day sit-in near the Presidential Office protesting against government guidelines, proposed by the cabinet-level Council of Indigenous Peoples, on changing the designation of traditional Indigenous territory. Media reported that migrant workers were sexually harassed at work.

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

On 24 May, the Grand Council of Judges (Constitutional Court) ruled that sections on marriage in the current Civil Code were unconstitutional as they discriminated against same-sex couples. It gave the authorities two years to revise the law in order to achieve equal protection of freedom of marriage for same-sex couples. In late 2016, the Legislative Yuan, Taiwan’s Parliament, had started discussion of a draft bill on revising the Civil Code to allow same-sex marriage but the bill had not progressed by the end of 2017. If passed, Taiwan would become the first jurisdiction in Asia to legalize same-sex marriage.

Legal, constitutional or institutional developments

In January, the government convened independent international human rights experts to conduct its second review of the implementation of the ICCPR and the ICESCR.1 The government initiated this parallel review process as Taiwan is not a member of the UN. The second review was to examine progress since the last one in 2013.

During the second review, the Taiwan government announced that it will establish a national human rights institution meeting the standards set out in the Paris Principles.

In late October and November, the government also convened international experts to conduct its first reviews of the implementation of the CPRD and CRC respectively.

Death penalty

The Supreme Court rejected the Prosecutor-General’s extraordinary appeal for Chiou Ho-shun in July, a year after the application. Chiou Ho-shun, who has been on death row since 1989, is the longest-serving death row inmate in modern Taiwan history. The appeal application cited the failure of previous courts to omit evidence from a coerced “confession”. Chiou Ho-shun claims he was tortured in custody and forced to “confess” during police interrogations before being found guilty of robbery, kidnapping and murder in 1989.

The Taichung Branch of the Taiwan High Court held a retrial of the case of Cheng Hsing-tse, who was released on bail in 2016. The court cleared his name in October, overturning his convictions. He had served 14 years in prison after he was convicted of the murder of a police officer during an exchange of gunfire at a karaoke parlour in Taichung in 2002.

Refugees and asylum-seekers

By the end of the year there had been no progress on the refugee bill since its second reading in July 2016. This was despite international experts concluding recommendations in January, which urged the speedy adoption of a refugee law to include the principle of non-refoulement.

  1. Taiwan: Government must act on human rights review (ASA 38/5531/2017)

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