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Human Rights Worker Shih Yi-hsiang on Implementing Two Covenants

On April 11, Executive Secretary Shih Yi-hsiang of the Covenants Watch, a non-government organization, spoke about how the International Covenants on Civil and Political Rights and the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, also known as the Two Covenants, are implemented in Taiwan.

Executive Secretary Shih Yi Hsiang shared his experiences working as human rights defender on the frontline and offered constructive criticism on the government’s effort or lack thereof in protecting human rights. While acknowledging the initial state report by the Republic of China (Taiwan) as a milestone in the country’s human rights endeavors, as it was the first state review to be conducted locally and engaged human rights academics and specialists face-to-face with the local government and NGOS, Executive Secretary Shih also pointed out the insufficient weight given to the list of issues identified by the review panel and called the series of post review sessions between the government and the public as mere formality.

As much as Executive Secretary Shih recognized the Control Yuan’s effort in protecting human rights, he also called our attention to the lack of procedural justice in carrying out the policy. He cited a number of cases, from urban renewal, aborigine’s rights, rights of the disabled, right to property, to land expropriation were executed before any proper public hearing. Moreover, issues such as LGBT rights, death penalty and amnesty, healthcare in the prison, the Assembly and Parade Law, are rife with human rights violation. The government’s decision to ratify the Two Covenants before conducting comprehensive review of existing legal provisions has proved to be too hasty. Executive Secretary Shih urged the Control Yuan to continue to play the part of a government watchdog in the country’s uphill battle to safeguard human rights.

The lecture is the fourteenth in a series of human rights education held by the Control Yuan since President Ma Ying Jeou ratified the Two Covenants and their implementation act on May 14, 2009. As the youngest lecturer ever spoken at the Control Yuan, Executive Secretary Shih was greeted by a full audience. Control Yuan member Li Fuldien was also present. Vice President of the Control Yuan and the Convener of the Human Rights Protection Committee, Chen Jinn Lih presented Executive Secretary Shih a collection of books documenting the human rights protection works by the Control Yuan.