Taiwan Joural 漢生立法報導--Bill awards compensation to marginalized leprosy pat

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Losheng, Taiwan's first and only leprosarium, has become home to the country's sufferers of Hansen's disease. (CNA)

Publication Date:07/31/2008 Section:National Affairs

By June Tsai<詳全文>

After almost three years of lobbying, a bill addressing the plight of the nation's leprosy sufferers passed third reading in the Legislative Yuan late last month. Patients and activists, however, have expressed mixed feelings about the legislation.

The Statute on the Human Rights of and Compensation for Hansen's Disease Patients was written into law July 18. The bill provides recompense for sufferers of leprosy, also known as Hansen's disease, who were quarantined or otherwise poorly treated by previous administrations since 1945. Under the law, the government will make a public apology, seek to raise awareness of the disease, compensate mistreated sufferers financially and provide life-long care to residents of the country's first and only leprosy facility-- the Taipei County-based Losheng Sanatorium.

Legal experts applauded the passage of the bill, saying it represented a triumph for human rights in Taiwan. However, nongovernmental organizations that have campaigned for the preservation of the sanatorium expressed disappointment that certain articles had been either toned down or written into the appendix to the statute as resolutions. While the original draft of the act had 25 articles, the final version has 13.

The leprosarium has been at the center of a legal battle since at least 2002, when its residents became aware that the land on which it was built had been sold to the Taipei Rapid Transit Corp. in 1995. The TRTC's plan called for the facility to be demolished to make way for the extension of the Taipei Mass Rapid Transit System, with patients being relocated to the Huilung Community Hospital. However, some of the leprosy sufferers refused to leave the leprosarium they had come to call home and were soon joined by activists in lobbying the government for the preservation of the facility.