Ma highlights Taiwan’s human rights efforts

Ma Ying-jeou (left) receives Mary Shuttleworth, president of Youth for Human Rights International, March 6 at the Presidential Office in Taipei City.

Taiwan leader Ma Ying-jeou said March 6 that the government has adopted human rights standards on par with those in leading democracies in its efforts to strengthen the nation’s freedoms.

“This year, we will publish the country’s first government-issued report in accordance with the two U.N. human rights conventions,” Ma said while receiving Mary Shuttleworth, founder and president of Youth for Human Rights International, at the Presidential Office in Taipei.

Ma was referring to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, which were ratified March 31, 2009, by Taiwan.

Steps have also been taken to revise domestic human rights laws, Ma said. A total of 70 percent of such legislation is now in line with the two covenants, with the remainder to be overridden, he added.

Praising Shuttleworth for promoting the concepts of literacy as freedom and child human rights, Ma said Taiwan has made similar efforts. These include enacting the Children and Youth Welfare Act, which was modeled on the 1989 U.N. Convention of the Rights of the Child.

In addition, since the launch of nine-year compulsory education in 1968, Taiwan’s literacy rate has dramatically increased from 50 to 98.04 percent in 2010, he said.

Ma expects this progress to continue when Taiwan commences 12-year compulsory education in 2014. The initiative will increase open admission to high schools from 40 to 75 percent and exempt tuition for all secondary school students.

Founded in 2001, Shuttleworth’s nonprofit organization teaches youth about human rights with the goal of inspiring them to become advocates for tolerance and peace.

Rachel Chan
Write to Rachel Chan at [email protected]