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Annual Report 2013: Taiwan
Amnesty International - May 23, 2013
Head of state: Ma Ying-jeou
Head of government: Chen Chun (replaced Wu Den-yin in February)
Taiwan carried out six executions. As of December, prosecution and defence lawyers were required to debate sentencing and related issues in death penalty cases before the Supreme Court. Indigenous people were caught in protracted land disputes and the authorities failed to protect their rights as the post-2009 typhoon reconstruction process continued. Media monopolies expanded further. A gender equality education curriculum was implemented after a year’s delay.
Death penalty Justice system Indigenous Peoples’ rights Freedom of expression Rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex people
Six men were executed – all in December; 55 prisoners were awaiting execution and had exhausted all appeals. From December, hearings of all death penalty cases at the Supreme Court were required to include oral arguments on sentencing and related issues by both prosecution and defence lawyers. The panel of judges would then also take into consideration the opinion of victims’ families in determining the sentence.
On 31 August, after 21 years of litigation, the High Court reconfirmed a “not guilty verdict” and freed the “Hsichih Trio”. Other death penalty cases similarly involving torture and forced confessions remained unresolved.
In August, the Taipei District Prosecutor’s Office again decided not to pursue charges against those responsible for airman Chiang Kuo-ching’s wrongful execution in 1997.
Indigenous Peoples’ rights
Guarantees in the Indigenous People’s Basic Law were not implemented and disputes continued over relocation processes initiated after typhoon Morakot in 2009. Under the Regulation on Defining Special Areas, which allows authorities to designate land as unsafe for habitation, several Indigenous communities faced forced relocation and future land use restrictions.
Freedom of expression
Concentration of ownership of media outlets raised concerns about freedom of expression and editorial independence. In July, the National Communications Commission (NCC) conditionally approved Want Want China Times Group’s acquisition of a major cable television channel and, in November, acquisition of newspaper giant Next Media. In December, the Taipei High Administrative Court ruled that the NCC had the executive power to revoke the Group’s acquisition of another cable television channel because the channel had failed to meet the conditions set by the NCC.
Rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex people
A gender equality education curriculum was implemented after delays due to objections from conservative religious groups in 2011. However, three planned sets of resource manuals for elementary and high-school teachers including content on gender identity, sexual orientation and alternative families were not published.