On December 12, President Ma Ying-jeou attended the opening ceremony of the Taiwan Human Rights Memorial Park in Taipei City’s Jingmei. On the occasion, the president announced that the Act Governing the Execution of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights had become effective two days prior. Passed in March and signed in May, the Act gives these covenants the force of domestic law in the Republic of China (ROC). With the 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the covenants are the cornerstones of the global effort to protect human rights.
Domestic laws will now have to come into compliance with the two covenants. The ROC government will amend current laws that contravene the spirit of the two covenants over the next two years. This is a milestone in the development of human rights in Taiwan, and brings the nation more into line with the international community.
The president noted that the ROC signed the two covenants in 1967, but did not ratify them following its withdrawal from the United Nations in 1971. The ROC is not able to deposit an instrument of ratification with the UN Secretariat as other nations have, but the Act’s taking force means that the covenants will be honored in the ROC.
President Ma Ying-jeou pointed out that the credit for this achievement is not his alone, but is due to all those people who have campaigned for freedom, democracy, human rights and the rule of law in Taiwan, some of whom were even imprisoned for their efforts. The president apologized on behalf of the government to those wrongfully accused and persecuted in the past.
In closing, Ma pledged that the government would faithfully execute these laws and work to educate people about the importance of respecting human rights.