At noon of January 20, President Tsai Ing-wen hosted a luncheon for members of the international review committee for the Second National Reports of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) and the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR). In addition to expressing her gratitude for their participation and recommendations, the president said that the government will take their recommendations to heart and actively make improvements.
In her remarks, President Tsai stated that the review meetings of the second national reports on the two human rights covenants have concluded successfully and on the morning of January 20, the international review committee put forth 78 points in their Concluding Observations and Recommendations. All the committee members have devoted a lot of time and effort into examining Taiwan's human rights issues, the president said. She then expressed sincerest appreciation on behalf of the government to them.
President Tsai noted that in recent years, Taiwan has drawn up many implementation acts on major international human rights covenants. We also convened review meetings of national reports and invited international experts to Taiwan to examine and discuss human rights issues, and to develop a method for Taiwan to participate in the UN's human rights protection mechanism. Through these implementation acts, we have plans to implement provisions of the two covenants in our domestic law. Advancement of the spirit of the two covenants will be a benchmark of our human rights standards, not a ceiling that stops progress once we reach a certain point, the president remarked.
President Tsai stated that we must set standards higher while getting more deeply involved in society . Therefore, said the president, we will propose a comprehensive plan for human rights education. She expressed hope that in the future, no matter whether it's in the advancement of policy reform, or in the daily work of public servants, teachers, the police force, or judicial officers, "human rights will be a basic and prioritized value."
The president mentioned that in the latter half of this year, there will be reviews of national reports under the Convention of the Rights of the Child (CRC) and the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD). We will strive to advance human rights protection in Taiwan and also share our experiences with the international community, she said.
The president then thanked all the committee members for providing their invaluable input in the past few days. The committee has also provided pointers and reminders from a human rights perspective on the government's important laws and policies. Although, said the president, she hadn't yet had time to carefully read over the Concluding Observations and Recommendations, she promised that she will find time to go over all of them.
President Tsai stressed that human rights protection is something we have always strived for. Many of the new government's top priorities including pension reform, judicial reform, housing policies, indigenous peoples' history and transitional justice all embody human rights significance.
The president stated that establishing a National Human Rights Commission is a commitment that she made. As for its progress that the committee members are concerned about, the Presidential Office Human Rights Consultative Committee has already begun to discuss measures of setting up a national human rights commission. She hoped that we will be able to reach a decision within this year.
Lastly, President Tsai thanked each and every one of the committee members for their participation and recommendations. She emphasized that we will take their recommendations to heart and actively make improvements. The president also extended her best wishes for their success in human rights protection efforts or academic studies.
The guests were accompanied to the Presidential Office by Executive Yuan's Minister without Portfolio Lin Mei-chu (林美珠), Minister of the Interior Yeh Jiunn-rong (葉俊榮), Minister of Justice Chiu Tai-san (邱太三), and Deputy Minister of Justice Chen Ming-tang (陳明堂).