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TITLE:  TAIWAN HUMAN RIGHTS PRACTICES, 1993                             
DATE:  JANUARY 31, 1994


In 1993 Taiwan continued its rapid progress toward a 
pluralistic system truly representing the island's population.  
Open political debate and a freewheeling print media 
contributed to a vigorous democratic environment.  The new 
Legislative Yuan (LY) took an increasingly active role.  In 
November local mayor and county magistrate elections were 
freely, fairly, and energetically contested, marking a new 
stage in competitive party politics in Taiwan.  The 
disproportionate role of Chinese mainlanders who had dominated 
both politics and government in Taiwan since 1945 through the 
Nationalist Party (KMT), already sharply reduced by the 
National Assembly (NA) (1991) and LY (1992) elections, was 
further curtailed at the KMT's 14th Congress in August.  
Factions led by Taiwan-born Chairman (and regime President) Lee 
Teng-Hui won 80 percent of the seats on the Central and Central 
Standing Committees.  Senior military officers were discouraged 
from seeking high KMT positions, thereby enhancing the 
political neutrality of the military.  Following the lifting of 
martial law in 1987 and the disbanding of the Taiwan Garrison 
General Headquarters in 1992, most law enforcement functions 
are handled by civilian police agencies.

Taiwan's basically free market economy has major sectors 
dominated by state- and party-run enterprises--including 
finance, transportation, utilities, telecommunications, 
shipbuilding, steel, and petrochemicals.  Because of opposition 
and media pressure, the KMT has promised to make public 
information about its enterprises.  Taiwan's economy continued 
to shift toward the service sector and capital- and 
technology-intensive industries.  Shortages of unskilled labor 
and high labor costs resulted in the exodus of many 
labor-intensive manufacturers as well as the continued 
importation of foreign workers.

Political rights made further advances with the ending of 
restrictions on dissidents returning to Taiwan.  A new cable 
television law and steps to open new radio and television 
frequencies have begun to end the long-term monopoly of 
broadcast media by the authorities and the KMT.  New 
legislation brought significantly improved protection for the 
rights of juveniles and children.  Administrative changes 
raised the level of offices dealing with aboriginal affairs to 
give more attention to the needs of this group.

Despite a much improved human rights environment, human rights 
abuses continued.  There continued to be credible reports of 
police and military abuse of detainees.  A pattern of 
restrictions on workers' rights of association and to strike 
continues to be a significant problem.  Some "antihoodlum" 
regulations, including a "secret witness" system, violate 
internationally accepted standards of due process.  Child 
prostitution, including the sale of aboriginal children, and 
discrimination and violence against women remained significant 


Section 1  Respect for the Integrity of the Person, Including 
           Freedom From:

     a.  Political and Other Extrajudicial Killing

Five police officers in Taichung City were indicted for beating 
to death a rape suspect in August.  The death of World United 
Formosans for Independence Secretary-General Wang Kang-Lu in an 
October Taipei car crash was branded a "political 
assassination" by his family and supporters although though no 
evidence was found by year's end proving that the death was 
politically motivated.  

There were no other reports or claims of political or other 
extrajudicial killings directed by the authorities in 1993.  
However, there was the shooting of a county council member and 
his secretary in Yunlin county, reportedly by gangsters, and of 
a Chiayi county opposition leader investigating the collection 
of illegal fees from fishermen by his fishermen's association  
may have had political motives.  Also, long-time oppositionist 
Peng Ming-Min alleged in August that a security official had 
suggested murdering him to curb the "rising voice of Taiwan 
independence."  Since Peng did not file charges, the 
authorities did not investigate the allegation.  

Although corporal punishment is forbidden under military law, 
physical abuse of military personnel continues.  At a public 
hearing in July on human rights abuses in the military, the 
deputy military police commander admitted there were problems 
with the management of the armed forces and apologized to 
family members of people who died while serving in the 
military.  These included two detainees beaten to death at 
separate military reformatories during the past 2 years.

     b.  Disappearance

There were no reports of persons being abducted or secretly 
arrested by the authorities.

     c.  Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman, or Degrading 
         Treatment or Punishment

Credible reports of physical abuse of persons in police custody 
continued.  Five police officers in Tainan City were indicted 
in January for torturing two robbery suspects, and three more 
policemen were indicted in June for torturing another robbery 
suspect.  Taiwan law allows suspects to have attorneys present 
during interrogations, primarily to ensure that abuse does not 
take place. 

The Ministry of Justice (MOJ) claims that each interrogation is 
recorded and that all allegations of mistreatment are 
investigated.  Lawyers and legal scholars note that abuses most 
often occur in local police stations where interrogations are 
not recorded and when attorneys are generally not present.  
Detainees who are physically abused have the right to sue the 
police for torture, and confessions obtained through torture 
are inadmissible in court proceedings.

Prison overcrowding is an increasing problem.  According to 
reports, MOJ statistics show more than 50,000 inmates in the 43 
detention facilities in Taiwan, at least 15,000 more than the 
facilities' maximum capacity.  To reduce the overcrowding, the 
MOJ is studying reduction of the amount of time prisoners must 
serve before applying for parole from one-half to one-third of 
their sentences.

Conditions at detention camps for illegal immigrants are 
reportedly poor.  More than 2,000 illegal immigrants from 
mainland China are in custody, and some of them mounted hunger 
strikes and other protest actions at detention centers.  Among 
those people detained are four who claim to have left the 
mainland for political reasons but whose cases have not been 
reviewed for more than a year.  There have also been reports of 
harsh treatment and lengthy detentions of illegal foreign 
laborers and Vietnamese boat people in the San Hsia holding 
center.  The Chinese Association for Human Rights (CAHR) and 
the U.S.-based Asia Watch are following the case of one San 
Hsia detainee, Xu Li-Fang, a mainland student activist who 
entered Taiwan in 1991 on a counterfeit Salvadoran passport and 
claimed political persecution, but who is facing possible 
forced repatriation to the Peoples Republic of China (PRC).

     d.  Arbitrary Arrest, Detention, or Exile

Police may legally arrest without a warrant anyone they suspect 
of committing a crime for which the punishment would be 5 years 
or more in prison and may question persons without a formal 
summons.  The authorities must, within 24 hours after 
detention, give written notice to the detainee, or a designated 
relative or friend, stating the reason for the arrest or 
questioning.  Indicted persons may be released on bail at 
judicial discretion.

The Criminal Procedure Code (CPC) specifies that the 
authorities may detain a suspect for up to 2 months during the 
investigation phase before filing a formal indictment.  The 
prosecutor's office may extend the investigative detention for 
one additional 2-month period.  A suspect may be held for up to 
3 months during trial proceedings, and the court may extend the 
trial detention for two additional 3-month periods.  The 
authorities generally have followed these procedures, and 
trials usually take place within 3 months of indictment.

In March the Judicial Yuan (JY) released its draft of revisions 
to the CPC, including provisions which may increase protections 
for the accused.  These include giving suspects the right to 
remain silent when arrested, reducing the time allowed for 
initial interrogations, and shortening the 4-month period that 
suspects may be held without charges.  The JY has sent the 
draft revisions to the Ministry of Justice (MOJ) of the 
Executive Yuan (EY) where they were still under review at 
year's end.

The request of a suspect to have a lawyer present during the 
investigation phase is generally respected, but defense lawyers 
complain that persons often are not advised of their right to 
have legal representation during police interrogation, and 
there is no legal requirement that indigent persons be provided 
with counsel during police interrogation.

A continuing departure from international standards of due 
process is the secret witness system under the "Antihoodlum 
Law."  This system allows police to conduct "sweeps" of 
suspected "hoodlums"--81 were reportedly picked up in the 
seventh island-wide sweep in September--and use the testimony 
of unidentified informants in detaining the suspects.  Counsel 
for the alleged hoodlums are not permitted to cross-examine the 
informants.  While defense attorneys recently have been given 
the right to examine documentary evidence, critics charge that 
evidence in these cases is often weak or fabricated.  In 1992 
the Antihoodlum Law was revised to bring secret witnesses under 
the criminal statutes for perjury, but critics say this is not 
sufficient because the detainees often lack the means to prove 

According to the JY, the secret witness system is not used in 
normal criminal procedures; "antihoodlum" punishments are 
"administrative procedures."  Based on evidence provided by the 
police, a specialized court determines whether or not an 
accused hoodlum should receive reformatory education.  This 
decision may be appealed by the accused to a higher court.  
Critics say that courts simply rubberstamp police decisions, 
and, while most detainees appeal their sentences, most remain 
unchanged.  Courts do not determine the length of reformatory 
education; reformatory authorities make this decision based on 
the behavior of the detainee.  The usual term is 3 to 6 months 
for a first offense, and detention of repeat offenders may be 
extended for up to 3 years.

     e.  Denial of Fair Public Trial

The right of fair public trial is provided for by law and 
generally respected in practice.  Taiwan's legal system does 
not provide for trial by jury.  In a typical court case, 
parties and witnesses are interrogated by a single judge but 
not directly by a defense attorney or prosecutor.  The judge 
may decline to hear witnesses or to consider evidence a party 
wishes to submit.  All judges are appointed by, and responsible 
to, the JY.  Although observers in the past have characterized 
the judiciary as not fully independent and as susceptible to 
political and personal pressure, there was little such 
criticism in 1993.  Nonetheless, press reports indicate a group 
of judges at the Taichung district court asked the Judicial 
Yuan to allow judges themselves to decide on their annual 
projects and assignments rather than have their court 
presidents decide for them.

In a landmark decision, the Supreme Court in March overturned, 
because of lack of evidence, Taiwan independence activist 
George Chang's 1992 conviction for violent sedition, including 
attempted murder, in connection with a 1976 letter-bomb plot.  
Defense attorneys had appealed the prosecution's reliance on 
evidence obtained from a prisoner during a 1977 military 
tribunal, which the witness publicly recanted during Chang's 

Trials are public, but attendance at trials involving juveniles 
or politically sensitive issues may require court permission.  
A defendant has the right to an attorney; if the defendant is 
suspected of committing a crime for which the penalty is 3 or 
more years' imprisonment, or if the defendant is handicapped or 
elderly, the judge may assign an attorney.  Criminal law 
specifically provides the defendant with protection from 
self-incrimination.  Persons convicted in cases in which the 
sentence exceeds 3 years have a right to appeal to the High 
Court and to the Supreme Court.  Those sentenced to 3 years or 
less can appeal only to the High Court.  Life imprisonment and 
death sentences are automatically reviewed by the Supreme Court.

     f.  Arbitrary Interference with Privacy, Family, Home, or 

Warrantless searches, common before the lifting of martial law, 
are unusual now.  An exception is car searches, which are 
routinely conducted at roadblocks.  Otherwise, a warrant, 
issued by a prosecutor or a judge, must be obtained before a 
search, except when incidental to arrest.  However, critics 
claim that the "incidental to arrest" provision is often 
interpreted broadly by police to justify searches of locations 
other than actual sites of arrests.

There continue to be reports, which many observers find 
credible, that police and security agencies interfere with the 
right to privacy, including allegations of surveillance and 
interception of correspondence and telephone calls.  In March 
legislators complained about National Security Bureau (NSB) 
tapping the phones of mainlander KMT politicians and of DPP 
members, a charge the NSB denied.  An Australian scholar 
complained in June that he had been closely watched and 
followed since his arrival in Taipei a short time earlier.  
According to EY regulations, judicial and security authorities 
may file a written request to a prosecutor's office to monitor 
telephone calls to collect evidence against a suspect involved 
in a major crime.  The authorities claim they do not monitor 
the telephones of opposition figures.

A major improvement in the right to privacy occurred in 1992 
when the "second personnel offices," maintained by the Ministry 
of Justice Investigation Bureau to monitor civil servants' 
political and ideological loyalties, were replaced by 
politically neutral "government ethics departments" charged 
with anticorruption duties and the security of government 
agencies.  The MOJ claims, and most critics agree, that it has 
kept its promise to destroy "second personnel office" dossiers 
relating to the political loyalties of civil servants and 
employees of state-run corporations.

Section 2  Respect for Civil Liberties, Including:

     a.  Freedom of Speech and Press

In May 1992, Taiwan revised sedition statutes to eliminate 
provisions outlawing "conspiracy" to commit sedition and to 
limit the purview of the sedition law to cases involving 
violence or threats.  After the revision, the authorities 
released all prisoners convicted on sedition charges and 
dropped pending sedition cases.  According to a prominent 
lawyer, no new sedition charges were filed during 1993.

A 1992 revision of the National Security Law (NSL) removed 
prohibitions on "actions against the Constitution."  However, 
the NSL--and related statutes such as the Civic Organizations 
Law and the Parade and Assembly Law--still retain prohibitions 
against advocating Communism or espousing the division of 
national territory.  No prosecutions for violations of these 
provisions were undertaken in 1993.

Censorship of the print media (more than 70 newspapers publish 
regularly) is rare, but the Publications Law empowers the 
police to seize or ban printed material that is seditious, 
treasonous, sacrilegious, interferes with the lawful exercise 
of public functions, or violates public order or morals.  No 
seizures of materials on political grounds occurred in 1993, 
although there were several raids to seize pornographic 
materials.  The Government Information Office (GIO) decided 
that the September publication in Taipei of the biography of 
mainland leader Deng Xiaoping written by his daughter did not 
violate the Publications Law or any other concerned regulations.

Four professors were found guilty in July of libel for leading 
a boycott against a newspaper they alleged slanted its 
reporting in favor of the PRC and against Taiwan; they have 
appealed their sentences.  In September the Taipei district 
court convicted a Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) legislator 
of interference with a public function for insulting a vice 
justice minister at an LY Judiciary Committee meeting.  The 
court ruled that execution of the sentence, 50 days of forced 
labor and a fine of about $24 (NT 600), be delayed for a 1-year 
probationary period.  The legislator has ignored the entire 
case on the grounds of LY immunity and plans no appeal.

In contrast with the relatively open and highly competitive 
environment in which the print media now operate, television 
and radio remained tightly controlled.  The KMT, the Taiwan 
provincial government, and the military are the largest 
shareholders of and operate the three broadcast television 
stations.  The GIO argues that these stations are really 
civilian businesses since government agencies control less than 
half of their stock shares, that their programming is guided by 
the market rather than by the GIO or the KMT, and that they 
rely on revenues from commercials and services rather than 
government funds.  Critics claim that television coverage has 
been slanted to favor the KMT viewpoint and that reports on 
sensitive subjects, such as opposition demonstrations, have 
been similarly biased.  A television journalist, cited as best 
news anchor in March, was quoted as saying that the award had 
actually been given to the "best puppet" because of political 
interference in television news reporting.

Authorities have claimed only 12 of 33 radio stations have been 
owned by military and civil authorities, but they have counted 
among ostensibly "private" stations such entities as the 
KMT-controlled Broadcasting Corporation of China.  More than 
three-fourths of Taiwan's radio frequencies have been held by 
government, party, and other noncommercial entities.

Although there are a number of unregistered cable television 
networks, no requests to open new radio and television stations 
had been approved from 1969 until 1993.  The GIO accepted 
applications in May for the use of 28 FM frequencies and 
announced in December that 13 new radio stations, including a 
radio station run by an opposition DPP LY member which had been 
operating illegally, would be given FM channels.  In May the 
Minister of Transportation and Communications (MOTC) announced 
that 2 VHF frequencies would be made available by the end of 
the year and new stations could start operation as early as 
1996.  In June the MOTC announced that in addition 4 UHF 
frequencies, 2 more FM frequencies and 34 AM frequencies would 
be made available in 1994.  In July the LY passed a new cable 
television law, dividing the island up into over 50 districts, 
each of which is allowed up to 5 local cable television 
companies.  By December, more than 600 previously illegal cable 
TV operations had registered with the GIO to legalize their 
operations under interim cable television regulations which 
apply until the cable television law takes full effect.  The 
authorities are also setting up a new public television network 
to begin operation in 1995.

Critics charge that the limited broadcast ranges of new radio 
and television stations do not constitute a counterweight to 
the authorities' monopoly on island-wide broadcasting.  
Moreover, some critics are concerned that the KMT, with its 
vast economic resources, or large corporations will try to 
control these new "investment arenas."  Also regulations 
restrict the rights of those previously convicted of sedition 
to station ownership or management, although major opposition 
leaders are not affected because their rights have been 
restored through presidential amnesty.  Persons who have been 
convicted of sedition continue to be banned from working in 
television or radio stations.

The authorities lifted controls on the percentage of time 
television and radio stations could broadcast in dialects in 
July.  Although the Taiwanese dialect is the mother tongue of 
most of the island's inhabitants, 80 percent of broadcasting in 
the past had to be done in Mandarin.  Now broadcasting is done 
in Mandarin, Taiwanese, Hakka (television and radio), and 
aboriginal dialects (radio only).

Restrictions on academic freedom have continued to diminish, 
and expression of dissenting political views is common.  
Teachers are sometimes pressured to discourage students from 
demonstrating and risk being disciplined if they express 
unorthodox views.  No tenure system exists to protect 
teachers.  However, the trend has been to disregard political 
loyalty when considering the factors affecting professional 
advancement.  In December the LY revised existing law to 
prohibit political parties from establishing party branches at 
universities, as well as in court and military areas.

     b.  Freedom of Peaceful Assembly and Association

Freedom of assembly and association is provided for in the 
Constitution but is somewhat restricted in practice.  The Civic 
Organization Law requires all civic organizations to register, 
but authorities have refused to approve registration of some 
groups, such as the Taiwan Association for Human Rights (TAHR), 
that use the word "Taiwan" in their titles.  The TAHR, however, 
continues to operate.  According to the Parade and Assembly 
Law, as amended in 1992, peaceful demonstrations are permitted 
if approved in advance by the authorities and if they do not 
advocate Communism or advocate Taiwan's separation from China.  
The new law also reduced from 7 to 6 the number of days before 
a demonstration that an application must be filed.  Penalties 
for violating orders to disperse, however, were increased.

Opposition leaders who organized demonstrations have been 
prosecuted and fined in the past for alleged harm to public 
order, interference with public functionaries (usually the 
police), assembly without a permit, or for diverging from 
officially authorized routes.  Demonstrators are also liable 
for "insults or slander" of public officials.  Prosecutors deny 
that politics has played a part in decisions to bring charges 
under the Parade and Assembly Law, but the authorities have not 
asserted that those being prosecuted personally advocated or 
engaged in violence.  Observers say that there were few 
prosecutions under the Parade and Assembly Law in 1993.  
However, several people were indicted after the anti-KMT 
alliance riots in Kaohsiung in March, and their cases are 

The July 1992 revision of the Civic Organization Law removed 
from the EY the power to dissolve political parties.  This 
power now resides in a Constitutional Court composed of members 
of the judiciary's Council of Grand Justices, which was 
inaugurated in October.  Grounds for such dissolution include 
objectives or actions that are deemed to jeopardize the 
existence of the Republic of China.  No cases were heard by the 
Constitutional Court during 1993.

     c.  Freedom of Religion

The constitutional provision for freedom to practice religion 
is generally observed in practice.  Most Taiwan inhabitants 
adhere to Confucianism, Taoism, Buddhism, animism, or a 
combination of these beliefs.  Other religions include 
Christianity and Islam.  There is no established or favored 

     d.  Freedom of Movement Within the Country, Foreign
         Travel, Emigration, and Repatriation

The Legislature revised the NSL in 1992, easing restrictions on 
overseas Taiwanese and others entering Taiwan.  Restrictions on 
the entry of PRC citizens were also eased somewhat by the 
revision of the NSL in 1992 but remain strong.  Former Taiwan 
residents still require permission to enter the island, but 
entry restrictions were revised to cover only those about whom 
there are facts sufficient to create a strong suspicion of 
engaging in terrorism or violence.  The NSL revision was 
followed by a Ministry of Interior (MOI) announcement that the 
list of excluded overseas dissidents had been reduced from 282 
to fewer than 5.

The reversal of policy was symbolized by New York Law School 
Professor Chen Lung-Chih who had been blacklisted for years for 
serving as "foreign minister" for World United Formosans for 
Independence, a Taiwan independence group.  Chen returned to 
Taipei twice in 1993, the second time as the opening speaker at 
a conference on Taiwan's bid to enter the United Nations 
organized by the opposition DPP and funded by the Ministry of 
Foreign Affairs.

In September 1993, the deputy director of the MOI's Entrance 
and Exit Bureau announced that the "blacklist problem" no 
longer existed.  In October a former Taiwan legislator, who 
went to the mainland a decade ago and served as a member of the 
Standing Committee of the PRC's National Congress (PNC), 
returned to Taiwan after his retirement from that 
organization.  Also in October, the last of the major dissident 
leaders, Shih Ming, returned to Taiwan after more than 40 
years' exile in Japan.  Shih, who has refused to accept the 
legitimacy of the KMT-led regime--including its right to 
regulate his entrance to Taiwan--was released on bail pending 
hearings on illegal entry and sedition charges.  After Shih's 
release on bail, the prosecutor for the High Court formally 
dropped the arrest order against him, marking the end of 
Taiwan's four-decade-long "wanted list" of sedition suspects.  
The High Court prosecutor held an investigative hearing 
December 2 to determine whether Shih violated sedition laws by 
advocating overthrowing the government by means of violence or 
threats.  The prosecutor's investigation was continuing at 
year's end.  Charges involving illegal entry as well as 
document forgery (for falsifying a passport) were also still 
pending at the district court against independence activist 
George Chang.  In addition, the entrance of a number of foreign 
supporters of the Taiwan opposition remains restricted.

Except for military and other restricted areas, there is 
general freedom of internal travel.  An exit permit is required 
for travel abroad and may be refused for a number of reasons, 
including failure to complete compulsory military service.  
Entry permits for Taiwan passport holders residing overseas may 
also be refused.  Reasons for entry and exit refusals must be 
given, however, and appeals may be made to a special board.  In 
September new measures guaranteed that Taiwan passport holders 
who normally reside abroad may return and regain their 
household registrations, which are required if they wish to be 
candidates in elections.  Nonresident Taiwan citizens, however, 
are usually issued "overseas Chinese" passports and require 
entry permits to travel to Taiwan.

Section 3  Respect for Political Rights:  The Right of Citizens 
           to Change Their Government

Taiwan has made fundamental, rapid progress in moving away from 
its authoritarian political system to a more pluralistic one.  
The KMT, which established itself in Taiwan after the Japanese 
surrender in 1945, remains the ruling party but has become 
increasingly factionalized.  A group of KMT legislators split 
off in August to set up a new opposition party, the Chinese New 
Party (CNP).  In addition, the DPP, having won one-third of the 
seats in the 1992 LY elections, became a stronger opposition 

Reflecting their constitutional claim to be the government of 
all of China, the authorities maintain not only provincial and 
local government systems but also an array of central-level 
political bodies generally identical to those found on the 
mainland before 1949.  In the past, centers of power on Taiwan 
have been the Presidency, the EY, the military and security 
apparatus, and the KMT Central Standing Committee.  Currently, 
the Presidency, the EY, and the LY appear to have the most 

Both the President and Vice-President have been elected by the 
National Assembly (NA), although a movement toward direct 
election is under way.  The Premier is appointed by the 
President with the approval of the LY.  The NA has jurisdiction 
over constitutional revisions and meets in regular session only 
once every 4 years, although it holds extraordinary sessions in 
most years.  The elections of a new NA and LY in 1991 and 1992, 
respectively, created institutions broadly representative of 
the island's population.  There had been no general elections 
to these two bodies since before the 1949 KMT retreat to Taiwan.

The LY elected in December 1992 underwent some changes in 
makeup.  With the establishment of the CNP and other changes, 
the KMT holds 94 seats, the DPP 52, the CNP 7, and the 
independents and the Chinese Socialist Democratic Party the 
remaining 7.  The 1992 LY election was considered generally 
free and fair, and cases involving vote-buying and other 
irregularities in those elections were resolved in 1993.  By 
March 31, district prosecutors had processed 417 suspected 
vote-buying cases, completed the investigations of 345 of them, 
and brought formal charges in 18.  After the 1991 NA elections, 
the prosecutors investigated 250 cases and brought formal 
charges in 50.

In November local mayor/magistrate elections were conducted in 
a generally free and competitive atmosphere, although 
opposition members and observers reiterated claims of bias by 
the broadcast media (see section 2.A.).  There were some claims 
of election irregularities, but prosecutors found insufficient 
evidence to invalidate any of the results.

Originally composed overwhelmingly of mainlanders, the KMT's 
membership of over 2 million is now more than 70 percent 
Taiwanese.  (Taiwanese comprise an estimated 85 percent of 
Taiwan's population, with post-1949 Chinese mainlanders and 
their offspring comprising most of the remainder.)  During the 
KMT's 14th party congress in August, Taiwanese Chairman Lee 
Teng Hui's supporters captured control of 80 percent of the 
leadership positions.  The benefits the KMT enjoys from its 
ownership of enterprises, access to public funds, and 
assistance from administrative and security agencies give it a 
significant advantage, and the line between government and 
party interests has often been blurred in practice.  For 
example, the Finance Minister concurrently heads the KMT's 
special party branch for financial affairs, and the Chairman of 
the Vocational Assistance Commission for Retired Servicemen 
concurrently heads the KMT's party branch for retired 
servicemen.  However, this party-state structure has come under 
increasing opposition and media criticism.

Passage of the civic organizations law in 1989 legalized the 
formation of additional political parties.  At present, there 
are 74 registered parties.  The major opposition party, the 
DPP, was formed in 1986 in defiance of martial law; it 
registered as a political party in April 1989.  The DPP claimed 
a membership of 50,000 in September.  The newly-formed Chinese 
New Party claimed a membership of 30,000 the same month.  Other 
opposition parties are much smaller.

Although women in Taiwan are guaranteed equal rights under the 
Constitution, their role in politics remains limited.  At an 
international conference on women in December in Taipei, 
attended by 360 women leaders from 24 countries, one leading  
Taiwanese woman lawyer said that there were social, 
traditional, and family barriers against women entering 
politics, but not legal ones.  Senior regime women leaders 
include Minister Without Portfolio and KMT Central Standing 
Committee (CSC)  member Shirley Kuo (a former finance 
minister), KMT Deputy Secretary-General and CSC member Jeanne 
Tchong-Kwei Li, as well as the Director-General of the National 
Health Administration, 15 of 161 LY members, 42 of 325 NA 
members, 13 of 77 Provincial Assembly members, 3 of 29 Control 
Yuan members, 205 of 1,221 judges, and one major general in the 
armed forces.

The opposition parties have faced several disadvantages, among 
them the authorities' virtual monopoly of television and radio, 
although this is beginning to change (see also Section 2.a.).  
With the exception of those whose rights were restored by 
presidential amnesty, persons convicted of sedition also lost 
their rights to vote, hold public office, and work in, manage, 
or own television or radio stations.

Section 4  Governmental Attitude Regarding International and 
           Nongovernmental Investigation of Alleged Violations 
           of Human Rights

Taiwan's two principal human rights organizations are the 
establishment-oriented Chinese Association of Human Rights 
(CAHR) and the opposition-aligned Taiwan Association for Human 
Rights (TAHR).  Coordination between the two bodies is 
limited.  Despite the authorities' refusal to register it, TAHR 
continues to operate.  As noted in Section 2.b., both 
organizations investigate human rights complaints, many of 
which come to public attention through the media and statements 
by lawmakers from all political parties. 

The authorities permit representatives of most international 
human rights organizations to visit Taiwan and meet citizens 

Section 5  Discrimination Based on Race, Sex, Religion, 
           Disability, Language, or Social Status


The law prohibits sex discrimination, and most discriminatory 
sections of the Legal Code relating to divorce, property, and 
child custody have been eliminated in recent years.  Taiwan's 
laws now provide for equitable distribution of conjugal 
property in divorce cases, although husbands are given 
management of any postdivorce joint properties.  

Enforcement of other sex discrimination laws remains a 
problem.  While labor laws provide for maternity leave, 
employers do not always grant it.  Women have also complained 
of being forced to quit jobs because of age or childbearing 
restrictions, and restrictive quotas reportedly exist within 
certain ministries.  Women often receive less frequent 
promotions and lower salaries than their male counterparts.  A 
women's rights movement is active and growing, however, and 
women's rights groups formed an alliance during the 1992 LY 
elections to promote candidates who support their agenda.

Women active in politics, human rights, and women's 
organizations single out intrafamily violence, especially wife 
beating, as a serious problem.  Social welfare groups and 
municipal governments have established assistance centers to 
deal with this issue, but strong social pressure is sometimes 
exerted on abused wives to conceal their abuse to avoid 
"disgracing" their families.  Greater mobility, education, and 
job opportunities--there are now 2.4 million women workers in 
Taiwan--are making women more independent, less inclined to 
tolerate domestic abuse, and increasingly willing to complain 
of mistreatment or to seek divorces.  Taiwan's divorce rate is 
reportedly the highest in Asia, with one divorce for every 4 
marriages in 1992, although divorced persons still make up less 
than 2 percent of the population, according to the MOI.

Rape remained a serious problem, and rape victims are socially 
stigmatized.  One expert estimated that at least 7,000 rapes 
occur in Taiwan each year, but only 10 percent are reported to 
the police.  Under Taiwan law, the authorities may not 
prosecute for rape; only the victim may file a complaint.  
Because rape trials are public, women are reluctant to 
prosecute their attackers.  However, feminist and social 
welfare organizations have assisted rape victims, and victims 
are now more willing to come forward and press charges.  The 
Criminal Code establishes the punishment for rape as not less 
than 5 years' imprisonment, and those convicted are usually 
sentenced to 5 to 10 years of imprisonment.  The standard 
practice followed by the MOJ is to assign female prosecutors to 
rape cases and to have the cases heard before female judges.  
One well-publicized case, in which a secretary was raped by a 
businessman in the presence of a senior MOJ investigator, 
brought an especially strong reaction from women's groups.  The 
officer was sentenced to 19 months' imprisonment for his 
actions, and the bureau's director publicly apologized to the 
victim, her family, and the country's women for the officer's 


The human rights of children in Taiwan are protected by the 
Constitution and a number of laws and are normally well 
respected.  Children are generally not subject to abuse or 
maltreatment by the authorities.  However, a significant 
problem of child prostitution does exist (see below), and there 
is a minor but growing use of child labor (see Section 6.d.).

An extensive and well-supported compulsory educational system 
testifies to the quantity and quality of support devoted to 
children by the authorities.  The Constitution guarantees free 
primary education to all children from 6 to 12 years of age and 
that those from poor families shall be supplied with books by 
the government.  It also provides that "national, provincial, 
and local governments shall extensively establish scholarships 
to assist students of good scholastic standing and exemplary 
conduct who lack the means to continue their school 
education."  Later laws have extended compulsory education 
through age 15.  The Ministry of Education (MOE) says that 
99.79 percent of children complete elementary school and that 
99.54 percent complete the compulsory intermediate school 
years.  According to the Constitution, spending on education 
shall be no less than 15 percent of the central budget, 25 
percent of the provincial and special municipality budgets, and 
35 percent of the county and city budgets.  MOE says that 30 
percent of its overall budget, approximately $1 billion, is 
spent on compulsory education.

Child prostitution remains a serious problem in Taiwan.  Child 
prostitutes can be as old as 18, but most range from 12 through 
16 years of age.  The Juvenile Welfare Law enables juvenile 
welfare bodies, prosecutors, and victims to apply to courts for 
termination of guardianship of parents and the appointment of 
qualified guardians if parents have forced their children into 
prostitution.  In cases where children are engaged in 
prostitution of their own free will, and the parents are 
incapable of providing safe custody, the courts may order 
competent authorities to provide counseling education for not 
less than 6 months and not more than 2 years.

However, legal loopholes and cultural barriers remain obstacles 
to prosecution.  For example, in cases where both parents have 
sold a child into prostitution, the current law requires the 
victim to lodge a complaint before prosecution is undertaken. 
In many cases, the child is reluctant or afraid to do so.  
According to some reports, violence, drug addiction, and other 
forms of coercion are used by brothel owners to prevent girls 
from escaping.  Laws directed against customers and pimps of 
child prostitutes are weak.  In October, 59 legislators 
endorsed a new bill stiffening penalties against customers of 
child prostitutes, although at year's end the bill remained in 

     Indigenous People

Taiwan's only non-Chinese minority group, less than 2 percent 
of the total population of 21 million, consists of the 344,000 
aborigines, descendants of the Malayo-Polynesians already 
established in Taiwan when the first Chinese settlers arrived.  
In general, the civil and political rights of aborigines are 
fully protected under Taiwan laws.  Although they face no 
official discrimination and have reserved seats in the 
National, Legislative, and Provincial Assemblies which allow 
their representatives to participate in the overall political 
process, the aborigines have had little impact over the years 
on major decisions affecting their lands, culture, traditions, 
and the allocation of their natural resources.

While their impact has been limited, aborigines participate in 
most levels of the political system.  In addition to the 
representatives filling the six seats in the National and 
Legislative Assemblies and two seats in the Provincial Assembly 
reserved for aborigines--half of each elected by the plains 
aborigines and half by mountain aborigines--other leaders who 
are aborigines include the Chief of the Ministry of Interior's 
Aborigine Affairs section, the Deputy Director of the 
Provincial Aborigine Affairs Bureau, and the Chairman of the 
Pingtong County KMT Committee.  Some barriers are being 
broken:  the election of an aborigine as magistrate in Taitung 
County in November marks the first significant position won by 
an aborigine in a vote of the general public.

The NA amended the Constitution in 1992 to upgrade the status 
of aboriginal people, protect their right of political 
participation, and ensure cultural, educational, and business 
development.  In addition, the authorities have instituted 
social programs to help them assimilate into the dominant 
Chinese society.  To pay greater attention to the needs of the 
aborigines, aboriginal affairs sections within social welfare 
departments at various levels of the bureaucracy have been 
raised to full departments.  As part of its efforts to preserve 
ethnic identities, the Ministry of Education now includes some 
aboriginal language classes in primary schools.

Although aborigines face no official discrimination, they 
encounter significant cultural and economic barriers.  
Aborigines complain that they are prevented from owning 
ancestral lands in mountain areas under the authorities' 
control.  Furthermore, they are not allowed to use non-Chinese 
personal names on legal documents.  The average income of 
Taiwan's aborigines remains less than half of the national 
average.  Researchers have found alcoholism to be a significant 
problem among the aborigines, with alcohol addiction rates 
exceeding 40 percent among members of 3 of the 9 major tribes.  
One estimate is that 10 percent of the aboriginal population 
suffers from chronic alcohol abuse.  Earlier in the year, 
aborigine rights activists protested MOI plans to create 
national parks that include aboriginal lands on Orchid Island 
and at Jade Mountain, Taiwan's highest mountain.  In October 
they returned to demonstrate at the LY against the impact of 
tourism on their lands.  The sale of aboriginal girls by their 
parents into prostitution is a serious social problem.  
Although aborigines constitute under 2 percent of Taiwan's 
population, nearly 20 percent of the child prostitute 
population consists of aborigines, according to reliable 

Although the aborigines face serious problems, the Aboriginal 
Rights Promotion Association, the only private aborigines 
support organization, has apparently run out of funds.  It 
decided in October to move its office from Taipei county to the 
home of its chairman in Nantou county because of its financial 

     People with Disabilities

According to official statistics, there are 230,000 disabled 
people in Taiwan.  A leading expert in the field estimates, 
however, that the number is somewhere between 400,000 and 
500,000 and could be as high as 700,000, one-third of whom are 
severely handicapped and receive shelter or nursing care from 
the authorities.

Taiwan's Disabled Welfare Law was revised and strengthened in 
1990.  It prohibits discrimination against the disabled and 
sets minimum fines at approximately $2,239 for violators.  New 
public buildings, facilities, and transportation equipment must 
be accessible to the handicapped.  Existing public buildings 
are to be brought into conformity by 1995.  The law requires 
larger government and private organizations to hire, 
respectively, 2 and 1 percent disabled persons.  Organizations 
failing to do so are required to pay, for each disabled person 
not hired, the basic monthly salary (approximately $455) into 
the Disabled Welfare Fund, which supports institutions involved 
in welfare for the disabled.  Specialists note that many 
organizations complain that it is difficult to find qualified 
disabled workers and prefer to pay the fines involved.

A handicapped legislator states that support for the disabled 
is limited mostly by a lack of bureaucratic support for the 
allocation of resources.  He noted that since 1990 the Disabled 
Welfare Fund has accumulated approximately $122 million, but it 
has spent only about $140,000 because of a lack of personnel.  
As a result, only 10 percent of the 101,000 severely 
handicapped students receive special education, and education 
department funding for families to hire tutors directly for the 
remaining children is unrealistically low.  Although voting 
rights for the disabled are protected, candidates for public 
office require high school diplomas, and few disabled persons 
receive full high school educations.  The provincial government 
last year added 15 people to deal with the problems of the 
disabled.  In addition, in conjunction with plans to increase 
welfare assistance to low-income elderly persons, the Cabinet 
in October also approved granting or increasing monthly 
allowances to an estimated 30,000 low-income disabled persons.  

Section 6  Worker Rights

     a.  The Right of Association

Labor's right of association remains seriously limited by a 
number of laws and regulations.  Labor unions may draw up their 
own rules and constitutions, but they must submit these to the 
authorities for review.  Unions may be dissolved if they do not 
meet certification requirements or if their activities disturb 
public order.  According to official sources, no unions have 
been dissolved, although certification has been denied if there 
were competing unions.  In the latter cases, the unions were 
asked to reconcile their differences and file as a single 
union.  Civil servants, teachers, defense industry workers, and 
administrators acting on behalf of employers are prohibited 
from organizing labor unions.  The Labor Union Law requires 
that union leaders be elected regularly by their respective 
membership by secret ballot, and, in recent years, workers have 
sometimes rejected KMT or management-endorsed union slates.  
Some workers have established independent unions and 
federations under other names, such as "friendship 
organizations" and "brotherhood alliances."  These groups may 
register with the MOI as legal civic organizations but not as 
labor unions; thus they are not protected by the labor union 
law and do not have the right to bargain with their members' 

Unions may form confederations, but no administrative district, 
including cities, counties, and provinces, may have competing 
labor confederations, which effectively means there can only be 
one Taiwan-wide labor federation.  The Chinese Federation of 
Labor (CFA) is closely associated with the KMT and also is 
affiliated with the International Confederation of Free Trade 
Unions.  Taiwan is not a member of the International Labor 

Revisions of the law governing labor disputes, effective June 
1988, recognize labor's right to strike but impose serious 
restrictions that make legal strikes difficult.  Before a 
strike can be called, it must be approved by a majority vote of 
the full membership of the union.  The authorities have 
required their official approval before such a meeting can be 
called.  Both labor and management are forbidden to disrupt the 
"working order" when either mediation or arbitration is in 

Applications for local government arbitration must be made 
jointly by management and labor.  Stiff penalties may be levied 
should no-strike/no-retaliation clauses be violated, but 
employers have sometimes ignored the law and dismissed or 
locked out workers without any legal action being taken against 
them.  One county, however, has been active in responding to 
violations.  During a July 1992 strike, the Keelung Bus Company 
locked out workers and closed down all bus routes, even though 
the Taipei county government had announced that the dispute had 
entered the arbitration stage.  The county fined the company 
approximately $12,300, but higher authorities overturned the 
fine and returned the case to the county for reconsideration.  
The county reinstated the fine, and the company has again 

The drive for independent labor unions lost momentum in recent 
years due to generally higher wages, tougher tactics on the 
part of employers, the small scale and poor organization of 
most labor unions, and prosecution of labor activists by the 
authorities in the past; none was charged during 1993.  For 
example, labor activist En Kun-Chan was sentenced to 22 months' 
imprisonment in 1992 for allegedly violating the Parade and 
Assembly Law and with interference with official functions for 
his part in a protest against two footwear companies which 
refused to provide back pay and severance pay after the firms 
were closed.

In addition, the movement of a number of labor-intensive 
factories overseas and the importation of foreign workers has 
made the employment situation in Taiwan increasingly 
competitive, reducing labor activism to a minimum.  There were 
three major strikes in 1989 and two in 1992, but only one 
occurred in 1993, when the staff of Taipei's Grand Hotel in 
October protested plans to lay off more than 100 employees.  
However, an estimated 2,000 workers, representing more than 140 
independent labor organizations demonstrated at the LY on 
October 5 and presented a petition, signed by more than 15,000 
workers, demanding their own revisions to the Labor Standards 
Law to improve pay and working conditions.

     b.  The Right to Organize and Bargain Collectively

As of June 1993, some 3.1 million workers, approximately 35 
percent of Taiwan's work force, belonged to 3,656 officially 
registered labor unions.  The workers fall into two categories: 
660,000 work in the manufacturing industry; 2.45 million are 
members of professional or crafts unions, generally working in 
small or family units.  The high number of union members among 
professional and crafts workers is primarily a result of the 
eligibility of labor union members for health insurance.  Under 
the labor union law, employers may not refuse employment to, 
dismiss, or otherwise unfairly treat workers because they are 
union members.  In practice, however, union leaders have 
sometimes been dismissed without reasonable cause by employers, 
and authorities have failed to enforce this section of the 

Labor laws governing union activities apply equally within 
export processing zones (EPZ's).  Labor organizing practices 
are the same in EPZ's.  EPZ firms are subject to the same labor 
laws as firms on the outside, allow organized unions, and 
follow normal practices in concluding collective bargaining 
agreements with their unions.

Collective bargaining is provided for under the Collective 
Agreements Law but is not mandatory.  As of June 1993, 294 
formal collective agreements were in force, about the same 
number as in 1991.  Since such agreements are made only in 
large-scale enterprises, and less than 5 percent of Taiwan's 
enterprises fall into this category, the proportion of workers 
covered remains small.  Wages are set generally by employers in 
accordance with market conditions.  Legal restrictions on the 
right to strike and provisions for involuntary mediation of 
labor/management disputes when the authorities deem the dispute 
to be sufficiently serious or to involve "unfair practices" 
seriously weaken collective bargaining.  Most collective 
actions by workers consist of such illegal actions as work 
stoppages and mass leave taking.

     c.  Prohibition of Forced or Compulsory Labor

Under the Labor Standards Law, forced or compulsory labor is 
prohibited.  Violation of the law is punishable by a maximum 
jail sentence of 5 years.  Except for allegations concerning 
prostitution (see Section 5), there were no reports of forced 

     d.  Minimum Age for Employment of Children

The Labor Standards Law stipulates that the minimum age for 
employment is 15 (i.e., after compulsory education ends), and 
interaction between this law and a compulsory education law 
effectively keeps child labor at a very low level.  As of May 
1993, 9,000 child workers between the ages of 15 and 16 were 
hired by manufacturing industries, and some labor experts 
believe that employment of younger children may slowly be 
increasing as the cost of living rises and as managers seek 
cheaper sources of labor.  Minimum age laws are enforced by 
county and city labor bureaus; in general they lack the 
resources necessary to prevent violations.

     e.  Acceptable Conditions of Work

The Taiwan Labor Standards Law was enacted in 1984 to provide 
minimum labor standards.  According to the Council of Labor 
Affairs (CLA), in June 1993 the law covered 3.52 million of 
Taiwan's 5.97 million paid workers.  (The CLA carries out the 
functions of a labor ministry, but it does not enjoy Cabinet 
rank.)  The law has enjoyed only limited success in several 
areas, and many observers believe that it and other labor laws 
should be strengthened and extended to cover additional 
workers.  By law the workweek is limited to 48 hours (8 hours 
per day, 6 days per week), with certain provisions for overtime.

Taiwan's current minimum wage, put into force after Cabinet 
approval in August, is approximately $500 (NT 13,350) per 
month.  There is general agreement that the legally established 
minimum wage is less than that needed to assure a decent 
standard of living; however, the average manufacturing wage is 
more than double the legal minimum wage and that for service 
industry employees is 10 percent higher still.  In addition, 
most large firms provide their employees with allowances for 
transportation, meals, housing, and other benefits which can 
amount to another 60 to 80 percent of base salary.

The 1991 Occupational Safety and Health Law enlarged coverage 
to include workers in agriculture, fishing, and forestry 
industries and appeared to strengthen penalties for safety 
violations, but it still provides only minimum standards for 
working conditions and health and safety precautions.  
According to Article 13 of the Occupational Safety and Health 
Law, workers have the legal right to remove themselves from 
dangerous work situations without jeopardy to continued 
employment.  Some critics see the law as a step backwards, 
noting for example that general contractors are not responsible 
for the safety of workers of subcontractors under the revised 
law.  In Taipei county in the last 3 years, the leading cause 
of accidental death has been construction accidents 
(approximately 80 per year) compared to approximately 70 per 
year for traffic accidents.  However, rising labor 
consciousness and continuing labor shortages have resulted in 
improvements in working conditions.

The CLA does not effectively enforce many workplace laws and 
regulations, primarily because it employs too few inspectors.  
As of June 1993, there were 283 inspectors for approximately 
300,000 enterprises covered by the Occupational Safety and 
Health Law, an increase of only 16 inspectors compared to the 
year before.  Because the new law expanded coverage to include 
more enterprises, the inspection rate has declined.  Since most 
enterprises are small, family-owned operations employing 
relatives who will not report violations, actual adherence to 
the hours, wage, and safety sections of various labor laws is 
hard to document but is thought to be minimal.  Nonetheless, 
Taiwan's occupational injury rate has declined steadily from 
0.82 percent in 1980 to 0.39 percent in 1991 and to 0.355 
percent in 1992, according to CLA statistics.

Because of Taiwan's acute labor shortage, there was a legal 
influx of foreign workers in 1993.  Foreign workers receive the 
same protection under labor legislation as local workers.

Authorities say illegal workers are entitled to the same work 
conditions as native workers, but in many cases illegal foreign 
workers are given board and lodging but no medical coverage, 
accident insurance, or other benefits enjoyed by local 
workers.  Conditions in many small and medium-sized factories 
that employ illegal labor are poor, with old and poorly 
maintained equipment resulting in the potential for a high rate 
of industrial accidents.  The accident numbers, however, remain 
low, according to CLA and Manila Economic and Cultural Office 
(MECO) statistics.  Illegal workers remain vulnerable to 
exploitation, including confiscation of passports, imposition 
of involuntary deductions from wages, and extension of working 
hours without overtime pay.

Various church groups in the Philippines in 1992 denounced the 
poor working conditions of Filipinos employed on board Taiwan 
fishing vessels, as well as squalid conditions found on 
offshore Taiwan floating "hotels" for fishing crews on Taiwan 
fishing boats.  MECO says the use of offshore "hotels" has 
ended. The church groups also noted that a large number of 
Filipino fishermen have been reported as missing at sea.

[end of document]


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