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July 28, 2017

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Review of human rights report to be made public: official

TAIPEI--The Ministry of Justice said Monday that the results of a review of Taiwan's first human rights report being conducted by international human rights experts will be made public and promised that all related information will be transparent.

"Related details will be published on the website," said Huang Yu-yuan, deputy director of the ministry's Department of Legal System, responding to skepticism over the review and the government's interest in acting on it.

Liang Kuang-chung, deputy director-general of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs' Department of Treaty and Legal Affairs, said the government would take the review seriously.

He said the government will respond directly to the views of the experts to help them understand the positive efforts Taiwan has made in carrying out two United Nations human rights covenants.

President Ma Ying-jeou signed the two covenants — the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights — in 2009 to showcase the government's determination to protect human rights in Taiwan.

Ma then unveiled the nation's first national human rights report on the progress Taiwan has made in implementing the two covenants last year and invited international experts to review the report.

Opposition Democratic Progressive Party legislators and civic groups expressed concerns about the government's approach and potential response to the review at a press conference Monday.

Human Rights Covenant Watch executive director Huang Song-lih worried that nobody seemed to be in charge of the process, even though the president should theoretically designate such a person.

Wellington Koo, an executive director of the Taiwan Association for Human Rights, said he did not feel that Vice President Wu Den-yih, who serves as the convener of a Presidential Office human rights advisory committee, is heeding the issue either.

Koo expressed the hope that Wu or Premier-designate Jiang Yi-huah can take the lead in announcing Taiwan's receptiveness to the international review and that it would be used as a reference for the government in making policy in the future.

The Foreign Ministry's Liang said later in the day that the government was making the review a priority.

He noted that authorities were also actively pushing new legislation that will provide a legal basis for codifying international treaties into domestic law.

Once passed, he said, the law will enable the government to approve other core human rights treaties.

The nine international experts who are currently reviewing the report at their overseas bases, are scheduled to arrive in Taiwan on Feb. 24 and meet with nongovernmental organizations on Feb. 25-28.

They will then present their conclusions on March 1 before returning home, the Justice Ministry said in a statement.

The Justice Ministry's Huang said the experts had already begun to raise questions on the report but noted that there had been delays in providing answers because of the need to translate them into English.

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