In March, Taiwan ratified the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights. In December, an implementation act provided for a review of all laws, regulations, ordinances and administrative measures to ensure they are aligned to the Covenants within two years. A national human rights reporting system will be established to monitor implementation.
The 2006 moratorium on the death penalty remained de facto only, despite the Minister of Justice announcing her intention to move towards abolition in 2008. The court of final appeal upheld the death sentence of 13 people, bringing the total number of inmates awaiting execution to 44. There are a total of 79 individuals on death row.
With ratification of the International Covenants, the number of crimes punishable by death is expected to fall from 52 (under 11 acts) to 20.
- On 6 August 2009, the Supreme Court overturned portions of the original rulings against Chiou Ho-shun. Chiou Ho-shun was sentenced to death for robbery, kidnapping, blackmail and murder in 1989. He has been detained for over 21 years while the cases have bounced between the High Court and the Supreme Court.
Freedom of expression and assembly
Despite public demand, there was no progress on the government’s proposal to amend the Assembly and Parade Law.
- In May and June, two leaders of human rights organizations, Lee Min Tsong and Lin Chia Fan, were prosecuted for leading assemblies without permits during the visit of a semi-official Chinese delegation in November 2008. The two cases were still pending at the end of the year.
Violence against women and girls
In January, the legislature passed a law against human trafficking. In November, Article 80 of the Social Order Maintenance Act, which imposes penalties on prostitutes but not their clients, was declared unconstitutional by the Council of Grand Justices. The Ministry of the Interior announced that it plans to decriminalize the sex industry.
Refugees and asylum-seekers
In November, two versions of a new draft Law on Refugees were submitted to the Cabinet. The draft excluding refugees from China, who are dealt with in the Act Governing Relations Between People on the Two Sides of the Strait, was submitted to the Legislative Yuan in December.