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September 27, 2017

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International assessment review of human rights report a milestone: Ma

TAIPEI--President Ma Ying-jeou said yesterday that having international experts review Taiwan's first human rights report is a milestone for human rights development in the country and it shows Taiwan's commitment in that area.

This is "an unprecedented experience" in the history of the Republic of China (Taiwan), Ma said at a welcome ceremony for eight of the 10 international panelists who will review the report.

"This is really a very remarkable moment for many of us," Ma said. "And I do believe that by doing this, we have demonstrated our sincerity to become a member of the international community, which respects and protects human rights."

Taiwan has made many efforts to safeguard human rights, Ma said, citing as an example the country's ratification in 2009 of two United Nations covenants — the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights.

He said, however, that there are still many things Taiwan can learn as a young democracy and he believes the international experts can offer suggestions for improvement.

The experts, eight of whom are already in Taiwan, will look at issues in the report such as capital punishment, organ donations, prison conditions, and environmental matters pertaining to the Central Taiwan Science Park. The other two panelists were scheduled to arrive by early Monday.

Manfred Nowak, professor of international law and human rights at University of Vienna, said he is delighted to be in Taiwan on what he described as a "highly remarkable and unique occasion."

He thanked the government for the invitation to review Taiwan's first human rights reports and also Taiwan's civil groups for their "remarkably active contribution to the implementation of human rights in Taiwan."

Philip Alston, law professor at New York University, said many governments are capable of uttering fine words when it comes to human rights, but the real test is to put the record of the government before an independent committee for evaluation.

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