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Human rights advocates from across Asia continue calls for refugee legislation in Taiwan


Taipei, 26 October 2017, 12.00: This week a delegation of refugee experts, lawyers and civil society activists from across Asia convened in the Republic of China (Taiwan) to provide further support for Taiwan to pass their pending draft refugee legislation. Building upon previous initiatives by the Asia Pacific Refugee Rights Network (APRRN) and the Taiwan Association for Human Rights (TAHR) to develop of a comprehensive refugee protection system in Taiwan, a series of events took place with judges, legislators, lawyers and the National Immigration Agency.


Official data shows that the number of people claiming asylum annually in Taiwan is minimal, however testimony from those working on refugee issues suggest it very much remains a problematic issue. According to the Taiwan Association for Human Rights, a locally based non-governmental organization that has been working for refugees for more than fifteen years, in 2017 alone there have been more than 10 cases of refugees claiming international protection. Eeling Chiu, TAHR’s Secretary General, noted that they “have seen a number of cases this year where the National Immigration Agency seemed at a loss of how to progress the claim. Without passing a law, Taiwan is simply using a Band-Aid to cure a broken bone, an approach which is profoundly flawed.” In addition, Allan Mackey from the International Association of Refugee Law Judges (IARLJ) also noted that “Taiwan is a highly progressive society when it comes to human rights and it has the potential to be a model not only in East Asia, but also the world.”

根據官方統計顯示,在台灣尋求庇護的人數並不多。然而,根據實際處理難民議題的工作者表示這仍是一個大問題。根據在地處理難民議題超過十五年的台灣人權促進會表示,光是2017年,就已經有超過十個尋求庇護的個案尋求國際保護。台權會秘書長邱伊翎表示,今年的這些個案,移民署都仍然不知道如何處理。由於沒有難民法,台灣只是「一再用ok繃來處理斷掉的骨頭」,這有著非常嚴重的缺陷。來自國際難民法官協會的Allan Mackey表示,台灣是一個非常進步的社會,在人權議題上面,它極有潛力成為不只是東亞,甚至是世界的模範。

On 26 October, the international delegation met with the Vice-President of the Taiwanese Legislative Yuan and members of parliament. Open and frank discussions on refugee protection were had, including an in-depth dialogue on ethical practices in Refugee Status Determination processes. Complementing the meeting with government representatives, a series of training are also slated for 27–28 October 2017 to build capacity for successful implementation of the refugee law.


In addition to bilateral meetings and trainings, an East Asia Refugee Forum, hosted by the Human Rights Program at Soochow University was also held to raise public awareness of refugee issues in East Asia. Mr Yiombi Thona, a refugee currently residing in South Korea shared his experiences and his recommendations towards the Taiwanese Government during the forum. “I arrived in Korea where I was given no help, no support and no assistance. However, over the 17 years I have been in Korea, I have seen a significant shift in the way the Korean Government approaches refugee issues. As another leading nation in the region, Taiwan must also begin to take the steps needed to share responsibility in the region.”

此外,由東吳大學人權學程所共同主辦的「東亞難民論壇」,也盼能提升社會大眾對於東亞難民議題的認識。目前定居南韓的難民Yiombi Thona也在論壇中分享他的經驗及對於台灣政府的建議。「當年我抵達韓國時,我沒有獲得任何協助或支持,然而,十七年後,我看到南韓政府對於難民議題的轉變。作為在這個區域另一個表率的國家,台灣必須採取步驟,以共同承擔這個區域的責任。」

A key message brought forward by the delegation throughout the trip was the need for the government to engage with civil society and other stakeholders in its efforts to build a legal framework in line with international norms and best practices. Furthermore it encouraged the government to take a proactive approach in a number of different areas including legal aid, interpretation and translation services and humanitarian support provision.


Evan Jones, Programme Coordinator at the Asia Pacific Refugee Rights Network said “the proactive engagement by the Taiwanese government to engage in constructive dialogue on the draft refugee law should be acknowledged. However, since earlier this year, we have not seen any progress. The government must advance this process and commit to effective implementation, once the law has passed. It is imperative that there be a shift globally towards collectively sharing in the responsibility of protecting people who have fled their countries.”

亞太難民權利網絡的協調專員Evan Jones表示,對於台灣政府積極參與難民法草案的建設性對話,值得肯定。但是,從今年年初訪台至今,我們仍未看到任何進展。政府必須進一步的往前,並承諾法案通過後將有效施行。全球必須要共同集體承擔責任,來保護這些從母國逃亡的人們。


Notes to the editor:


This week the government of the Republic of China hosted a delegation from the Asia Pacific Refugee Rights Network to discuss the pending draft refugee legislation and the preconditions for successful implementation. The international delegates who travelled to Taipei are all members of the Asia Pacific Refugee Rights Network and each brings with them an expertise in refugee legal aid, advocacy, government engagement and service provision.


In July 2016, the Taiwanese Legislative Yuan passed the first of three readings of Taiwan’s draft refugee legislation. This positive move is welcomed by civil society and is seen as a strong example of Taiwan’s positive and important role in the region. As a non-member state of the United Nations, Taiwan is unable to ratify the 1951 Refugee Convention or its 1967 Protocol, but there is nothing stopping Taiwan from implementing the Refugee Convention and Protocol the same way it has the ICCPR, ICESCR, CRC, CRPD and CEDAW.



About APRRN:


The Asia Pacific Refugee Rights Network is a vibrant network of over 300 civil society organisations and individuals from 28 countries in the Asia Pacific region committed to advancing the rights of refugees, through joint advocacy, capacity-strengthening, resource sharing and outreach.