Head of state
Ma Ying-jeou
Head of government
Wu Den-yih
Death penalty

Executions resumed. The authorities failed to deliver on promises to amend a law governing freedom of assembly. A corruption scandal affecting the judiciary prompted calls for judicial reform. Migrant workers continued to face multiple abuses of their rights.


The government continued reviewing all laws, regulations and administrative measures for alignment with the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights. Local activists questioned whether completion to a high standard was feasible by the December 2011 deadline.

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Death penalty

In April, four people were executed, the first executions since 2005. On 28 May, Taiwan’s Constitutional Court rejected a petition to halt executions made on behalf of 44 death row inmates, four of whom had been executed in April. Four new death sentences were imposed, bringing the total number of prisoners awaiting execution to more than 70. In October, an expert panel established in the Ministry of Justice recommended abolition of the death penalty.

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Freedom of expression

In September, the Taipei District Court suspended prosecution of two academics and leaders of human rights organizations, Lin Chia-fan and Lee Ming-tsung, for leading demonstrations without permits in 2008. The court submitted Lee Ming-tsung’s case for constitutional interpretation of several articles of the Assembly and Parade Law to assess possible infringement of citizens’ rights to assembly and free speech. In November, students protested against the government’s failure to deliver on its 2009 proposals to amend the law, including removing the requirement for prior police approval of demonstrations.

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Justice system

In July, the president of the Judicial Yuan resigned after a major corruption scandal involving high court judges. The crisis prompted demands for effective evaluation of judges and the draft Judges Act, under deliberation for more than 20 years, finally became a priority in the Legislative Yuan.

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Migrants’ rights

Migrant workers in Taiwan faced multiple abuses of their rights, including the right to transfer between employers and to form unions. Harsh and discriminatory working conditions, and exorbitant brokers’ fees contributed to large numbers leaving their original employer and becoming undocumented. Domestic workers are not protected by the Labor Standards Law, and are particularly vulnerable to sexual harassment, inadequately paid overtime and poor living conditions.

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Human rights by region

World regions Midde East and North Africa Asia Pacific Europe and Central Asia Africa Americas


A number of countries in Africa celebrated the 50th anniversary of their independence during the year while others prep ...


In the Americas many human rights have been recognized in law, if not always in practice, over the past 50 years. Whi ...

Asia Pacific

In a region with almost two thirds of the world’s population, stretching a third of the way around the planet, ...

Europe & Central Asia

The right to truth and justice, and the determination of victims and their relatives to achieve this how ...

Middle East and North Africa

2010 dawned with Yemen an unusual focus of international attention following an alleged terrorist ...

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