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Professor Liu on Fundamental Issues Arising from Two Covenants Ratification

April 29, 2015. The Human Rights Protection Committee of the Control Yuan invited Professor Ching-yi Liu of the Graduate Institute of National Development of National Taiwan University to talk about fundamental issues following the ratification of the Two Covenants.
Using the legislative process of the Implementation Act, the status of the international laws, actual cases that occurred before and after the ratification, and the Grand Justice’s interpretation and the court's ruling, Professor Liu analyzed the policies, laws and regulations, as well as the administrative hurdles that arise after the ratification. More than five years have passed since the Implementation Act came into force, yet disagreement and debate remain between the academia and government agencies (including the justice department), with regard to the legal status, binding effect, applicable agencies, and governing scope of the Two Covenants, with varying legal interpretations across the board. As such, better understanding of the concepts and implementation of the international laws across all sectors is much called for.
Professor Liu shared a case about the Supreme Court withdrawing the death sentence against a man with schizophrenia and discussed the disparate interpretations towards the binding power of the ruling. It was unprecedented for the Supreme Court to cite the Two Covenants and the UN Resolution on “Not to impose the death penalty on a person suffering from any form of mental disorder or to execute any such person,” as reasons to withdraw death penalty against a mentally disabled person and issue a retrial. Taiwan Alliance to End the Death Penalty, the non-government organization that has gone through great lengths in initiating the abolition of death penalty and realizing human rights protection, responded positively and described the Supreme Court’s ruling as progress in implementing the Two Covenants. The Alliance also urged the Ministry of Justice to conduct post-sentencing psychiatric assessment on all inmates on death row to determine mental competence. However, some judges deem it inappropriate for the Supreme Court to cite the UN Resolution as the reason for the judgment, given the fact that Taiwan is not a member of the UN. As the Two Covenants does not specify a ban on death penalty, the Supreme Court’s ruling is merely a lone case that has no binding power on other courts whatsoever. As such, domestic implementation of the Two Covenants requires further consensus and continuous collaboration on all fronts.
The President of the Control Yuan Chang Po-ya and Member of the Control Yuan Jane Y. W. Chiang also attended the lecture. President Chang presented Professor Liu books documenting human rights protection works completed by the Control Yuan in 2013. At the end of the session, Professor Liu was given a tour of the “Century of Elegance, Eternal Vigilance” exhibition that marks the one-hundredth anniversary of the Control Yuan building as a historic heritage. The exhibition features records of the assets owned by the Kuomintang (the ruling Chinese Nationalist Party) and some investigative cases. Professor Liu acknowledges the Control Yuan’s enormous responsibility in supervising the state implementation of international human rights conventions and looks forward to more work from the Control Yuan in safeguarding the human rights.