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TAIWAN 2020

The government took several measures to control the spread of the COVID-19 virus, some of which threatened the right to privacy. Amendments to the Prison Act failed to address concerns about rights of people on death row with psychosocial or intellectual disabilities. In August, a National Human Rights Commission was established. In October, the International Review Committee received reports from international organizations ahead of its review of Taiwan’s implementation of the ICCPR and the ICESCR.

Mass surveillance

In January, the government introduced a series of measures aimed at preventing the spread of COVID-19, some of which threatened the right to privacy. The government established a digital framework of mass surveillance and connected government databases, such as travel and health insurance records, for the purposes of tracking and tracing. Over 35 government departments were able to constantly monitor people’s movement and other activities, including the purchase of surgical masks, through this platform. The government provided few details about its use of the platform, nor specified when the data collection measures would end.1

Death penalty

Amendments to the Prison Act in January resulted in changes to the Regulations for the Execution of the Death Penalty in July. The amended regulations still allowed death sentences for individuals with psychosocial or intellectual disabilities.2 The authorities made no progress towards abolition during the year and continued to carry out executions.3

Right to truth, justice and reparation

The National Human Rights Commission established as part of the Control Yuan (the government supervisory agency regulated by the Constitution) began work in August. The commission is composed of members appointed to act independently and mandated to investigate complaints of human rights violations, including discrimination, as well as drafting and publishing a national human rights report and advising government agencies.4

Refugees and asylum-seekers

Refugees and asylum-seekers received only limited assistance.5 Over 200 people from Hong Kong arrived in Taiwan seeking asylum after the enactment of a national security law in late June. This highlighted the inadequacy of Taiwan’s present legal framework regarding refugees, asylum-seekers and others in need of international protection (such as non-refoulement) and led to renewed calls for the adoption of a Refugee Act.

International scrutiny

On 29 June, the government announced it was inviting national and international experts to review its implementation of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) and the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR).6 This International Review Committee is expected to gather for its third review from 18 to 22 October 2021.


  1. Taiwan: Submission to the International Review Committee on the domestic implementation of the ICCPR and ICESCR: 3rd reports, (ASA 38/3212/2020)
  2. Taiwan: Amendment to the regulations for the execution of the death penalty: General Comment No. 36 of ICCPR should be included (Statement, 20 July, Chinese only)
  3. Taiwan: Second execution under President Tsai (Statement, 2 April, English and Chinese)
  4. Taiwan: Establishment of National Human Rights Commission (Press statement, 19 June, Chinese only)
  5. Taiwan: World Refugee Day (Press statement, 19 June, Chinese only)
  6. Taiwan: Submission to the International Review Committee on the domestic implementation of the ICCPR and ICESCR (Press release 23 October 2020, in both English and Chinese)