Taiwan’s cross-party legislators jointly promote Taiwan’s version of human rights accountability law legislation

Taiwan‘s cross-party legislators will jointly push for the passage of a Global Magnitsky Human Rights Accountability Act similar to that of the United States, allowing Taiwan to participate in international cooperation and defend the universal values of human rights.

Fan Yun, a member of Taiwan’s ruling Democratic Progressive Party (DPP), said Tuesday that for Taiwan, which is a nation founded on human rights, the passage of a Taiwanese version of the Human Rights Accountability Act is of great significance.

She said, “In terms of diplomatic significance, it is also very positive for Taiwan, because we are unable to enter many UN human rights organizations, including other international organizations. But with this U.S.-led network, we actually have the opportunity to participate.”

Fan also said that she specifically asked Foreign Minister Wu Chiu-sup for his opinion on the matter, and that his reply was “very happy to see” and willing to provide legislative advice.

The U.S. Global Magnitsky Human Rights Accountability Act was passed by the U.S. Senate on December 17, 2015, authorizing the U.S. government to impose sanctions on individuals who commit serious human rights abuses, obstruct the fight for human rights, or commit serious corruption and bribery abroad, including banning them from entering the country, freezing their assets, denying them visas, or canceling the visas they have already been issued.

The Center for Financial Supervision and Corporate Governance at the National Yang Ming University of Transportation and Communications School of Law and the Taiwan Technology Law Association jointly held a public hearing on Tuesday (March 30) on “Taiwan’s Version of the Global Magnitsky Human Rights Accountability Act” and invited legislators, experts and scholars to express their views.

Non-partisan legislator Chang-Jo Lin said that when promoting Taiwan’s version of human rights accountability law, there are often reactions. He said Taiwan’s energy is so small that China will not be afraid of sanctions, but this is a network of sanctions based on the protection of human rights, and there can be no loopholes.

He said: “You own big or small, it is not your own judgment. Chinese party and military people who want to move their property elsewhere will look for loopholes, and Taiwan should not be a part of this loophole, Taiwan should be a part of the protective network.”

Lin also pointed out that Taiwan will not know that there are actually many Chinese communists who want to come to Taiwan if they do not go to the guard, and the Human Rights Accountability Act will be able to give these people nowhere to go.

Time Force legislator Wang Wan-yu said that the Xinjiang cotton forced labor incident has recently sparked global attention, but as early as July 2020, the U.S. officially announced the imposition of property freeze sanctions on four current or former officials in Xinjiang based on the Global Magnitsky Human Rights Accountability Act.

Wang Wanxu added that this bill is not only aimed at China, but of course also the Burmese military government that is persecuting human rights. Taiwan has to stand up for the universal values of human rights, and the only way to make the Human Rights Accountability Act most effective is through international cooperation.

Song Chengen, a doctoral candidate in international law at Oxford University in the United Kingdom, said that the Chinese government, when faced with foreign criticism of its human rights problems, always emphasizes that this is a domestic matter and other countries have no right to dictate, which is a very old-fashioned view of sovereignty.

He said, “More than 70 years ago, the international community has established a new view of sovereignty and security, which is that human rights violations that occur in other countries are not just a matter for that country, but also an international matter.”

Song also pointed out that if a totalitarian state can violate the human rights of its nationals at will, then there will be outward expansion, and the security of first the neighboring countries, then the region, and finally the whole world will be affected, as in the case of Nazi Germany.

Lin Zhijie, a professor at the National Yang Ming University of Transportation and Science Law School, said that the enactment of the Global Magnitsky Human Rights Accountability Act will enable a country to take concrete actions to promote the governance of transnational human rights abuses in the face of human rights abuses outside its borders.

Lin suggests that Taiwan can refer to the normative model of the Global Magnitsky Human Rights Accountability Act to allow countries and NGOs around the world to provide evidence of human rights abuses, clarify the criteria and decision-making procedures for sanctions, and achieve transnational cooperation in human rights governance.

Countries and regions that have enacted similar human rights accountability laws include the European Union, the United Kingdom, Canada, the Netherlands, Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania.