Joint Statement of Indigenous Peoples Organization
for the Review Meeting of the ROC’s Second Report under the ICCPR and ICESCR
Session: Joint public meeting with Parliamentary Cross Party Group and NGOs (2017.01.16 10:10-12:00)
Submitted by: LIMA Taiwan Indigenous Youth Working Group, Indigenous Youth Front, Nameless Indigenous, Association for Taiwan Indigenous Peoples’ Policies
Good morning, Chair, members of the Review Committee, ladies and gentlemen, the following statement is submitted by the four Indigenous Peoples’ Organizations taking part in this year’s Review Meeting, namely LIMA Taiwan Indigenous Youth Working Group, Indigenous Youth Front, Nameless Indigenous, and Association for Taiwan Indigenous Peoples’ Policies.
We would like to point out eight critical issues in terms of Indigenous Peoples’ rights in Taiwan for the members of the Review Committee to take into consideration.
Section One: Responding to Covenants Watch’s Joint Statement
First, we would like to respond to and echo the joint statement presented by the Covenants Watch. President Tsai Ing-wen has promised to restore and implement the rights of Indigenous Peoples several times both before and after her inauguration. After she took office, on Taiwan’s Indigenous Peoples’ Day (August 1, 2016), on behalf of the R.O.C. government, President Tsai made an official apology to the Indigenous Peoples in Taiwan, and announced to start the process of Indigenous Peoples’ transitional justice.
We acknowledge that President Tsai has honored her commitments made during her election campaign. However, in terms of the actual content of the apology and the reforming policies after the apology, there are obvious disputes and insufficiencies regarding issue framing and trustworthy and just procedure.
Based on the eight critical promises made by President Tsai in her apology, we are now going to point out the problems and issues already emerged in the process of implementation so far, also to illustrate what we meant in the previous paragraph with obvious disputes and insufficiencies regarding issue framing and trustworthy and just procedure.
Section Two: Issues Emerged Regarding the Eight Promises Made in President Tsai’s Apology
First, to address Indigenous Peoples’ history of colonization, President Tsai promised to establish an Indigenous Historical Justice and Transitional Justice Commission under the Presidential Office (refer as Indigenous Justice Committee hereafter), and with the representatives elected by Indigenous Peoples to pursue for the implementation of historical justice.
However, the actual operation of the Indigenous Justice Committee still lacks of transparency and justice. Some of the Indigenous representatives were elected by a perfunctory process rushed by the Council of Indigenous Peoples and the local governments. Many Indigenous persons only got to know about the election after the so-called “representatives of Indigenous Peoples/Nation” were elected. Moreover, the Indigenous Justice Committee is with no clear legal authorization, and there is no additional working force specifically responsible for the work of the Indigenous Justice Committee. We are very concerned about what substantial effect can this Committee actually make?
Second, for the implementation of the Indigenous Peoples Basic Law, President Tsai promised to request the Executive Yuan to convene the meeting of the Indigenous Peoples Basic Law Promotion Committee in a regular base.
However, after the resumed meeting held in November, 2016, how can the Promotion Committee substantially implement the Indigenous Peoples Basic Law
with the meeting held every four months? So far, there is yet any clear plan in this regard. Furthermore, in the process of drafting some disputed legislations, such as the draft of Traditional Territories Delineation Act, the Promotion Committee was not even invited to take part in the discussion. How can we expect this Committee and its meetings can be of any concrete function?
Third, President Tsai promised to establish an Indigenous Legal Service Center to moderate the conflict between the state legal system and Indigenous Peoples’ traditional custom.
We are glad to see that the Indigenous Legal Service Center is scheduled to be established this year. We are also expect to see that there is stable funding to support the Center to operate sustainably. Meanwhile, it shall be guaranteed that the Center is with the absolute independency to be free from any kind of interference, including political interferences. As to the long-term goals, we anticipate that besides providing legal aid and assistance to individual law cases, the Center shall be with research function to address on the conflict between state legal system and Indigenous Peoples’ traditional custom and make recommendations on law amendments accordingly.
Fourth, President Tsai promised to address on the issue of Indigenous hunters being sentenced because of hunting.
However, until recently, there are continuously many cases of hunters being arrested, charged and even sentenced because of hunting. The law enforcement is often with defects in the long investigation proceedings. The involved Indigenous persons are thus imposed with great physical and mental pressures and their dignities are severely trampled. As to the system reform, the law amendment process is long delayed. The concepts of hunting culture and of animal protection are manipulated as conflicting against each other and thus opposition in public opinions is provoked. In addition, the current regulation on guns used for hunting requires the Indigenous hunters to use out of date and less safe guns that impose threat to the lives of safety of the hunters.
We would like to emphasize that, “culture” is not a stiff concept restricted to a set and fixed time period or space. “Culture” is with great diversity and evolves with time. In the discussion made in the UN system regarding biodiversity, it is already recognized that the preservation of cultural diversity is beneficial for the sustainability of biodiversity. However, the R.O.C. government has never taken this fact into consideration.
Fifth, President Tsai apologized to the Tao Peoples for restoring the nuclear waste on the Orchid Island and promised to investigate the decision making process, as well as compensating the Peoples.
However, although the amendments to the Electricity Act were adopted last week, and it is clear provided in the articles of the Electricity Act that the nuclear power plants will stop operation by 2025, the Legislative Yuan still failed to set up a date when the nuclear waste will be removed from the Orchid Island. Moreover, there was a legislator from the ruling party stated directly that “we can not lie about the thing impossible to fulfil.” We definitely can not accept that the Tsai administration only made an apology regarding how the previous government set up the nuclear waste storage plant in the Orchid Island by cheating the Tao Peoples, but with no actual plan and time schedule proposed to remove the nuclear waste.
Sixth, President Tsai promised to advance the name restoration of the Pinpu Indigenous Peoples and resume the status and rights of the various ethnic groups of the Pinpu Indigenous Peoples.
Up to now, although the Executive Yuan has promised to amend the relevant laws to include the Pinpu Indigenous Peoples into the officially recognized Indigenous Peoples, the decision making process was lack of the full and effective participation of the members of the Pinpu Indigenous Peoples. Furthermore, there is no even a draft plan on how to identify individual members, communities, and Peoples/nations within various groups of the Pinpu Indigenous Peoples.
In fact, even after the inclusion of the Pinpu Indigenous Peoples, the Indigenous Peoples in Taiwan are still divided into three categories by the government, namely the Mountain Indigenous Peoples, the Plain-land Indigenous Peoples and the Pinpu Indigenous Peoples. These categories ignore the social realities and will of the various Indigenous Peoples/nations, and further lead to the differences and gap regarding rights implementation, for example, the right to political participation and right to land use. Indigenous Peoples’ subjectivity is thus violated as well.
Seventh, to respond to Indigenous Peoples’ claims on land rights, President Tsai promised to begin to delineate and announce Indigenous traditional territories and lands.
However, since most of the government departments are lack of the understanding on Indigenous Peoples’ cultures and social structures, they tend to identify the relation between Indigenous Peoples and lands as the concept of property or privatization. According to the draft Traditional Territories Delineation Act we can obtained so far, the articles ignore and misunderstand the fact that Indigenous Peoples traditional territories exist before the establishment of the state legal system and Indigenous Peoples thus are entitled with natural sovereignty. The Act therefore excludes private lands from the definition of traditional territories. Accordingly, Indigenous Peoples traditional territories are fragmented. What even more unacceptable is that the delineation of the traditional territories has to be approved by the land management department of the government. With these provisions, the mechanism of Indigenous Peoples’ self-determination is severely violated. What even worse is that it is possible to legitimate the improper and unjust development on Indigenous traditional territories and thus violated Indigenous Peoples’ right to survival.
Eighth, President Tsai promised to advance the process of several important legislations regarding the rights of Indigenous Peoples, including lands, self-governance and languages.
However, the process of drafting the legislations is still limited to the closed meeting of the administrative bureaucracy and selected experts and scholars. The members of the Indigenous Peoples only get to know about the legislations after the drafts were finalized. There is no possibility for the Indigenous persons to take part in the law drafting discussion. Indigenous Peoples’ Free, Prior and Informed Consent and right to full and effective participation are thus seriously violated.
Section Three: Our Demands
When it comes to Indigenous Peoples’ transitional Justice, it should be based on the concept of Indigenous Peoples’ rights to amend the existing laws and policies and to make the new laws and policies. Indigenous Peoples’ transitional justice would not be fulfilled with the mindset of superior majority and/or administrative bureaucracy.
Thus, regarding the abovementioned eight critical issues, we have the following joint demands,
First, when it comes to issue framing, the principles and spirits of the Two Covenants, the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples and the Indigenous Peoples Basic Law shall be upheld. The obstacles and problems shall be identified with human rights-based approach and understood in accordance with Indigenous Peoples’ rights framework. The transitional justice process with no human rights concept has no possibility to truly resolve all the disputes and conflicts.
Second, all stages of the decision making and drafting process of legislations and policies shall respect the subjectivity of the Indigenous Peoples/nations and communities. Information distribution and trustworthy participation procedure shall be ensured. Indigenous Peoples’ right to Free, Prior and Informed Consent and right to full and effective participation shall be fulfilled. If Indigenous Peoples cannot effectively take part, there would hard to be with trust between the State and Indigenous Peoples, and accordingly, with no such trust, it would be difficult to achieve reconciliation.
Most importantly, the issues faced by Indigenous Peoples are actually the common challenges faced by the whole society in Taiwan. Just like the process of transitional justice, reconciliation is not only between the State and Indigenous Peoples, but the whole society shall understand and take part. Only so, it is possible to achieve reconciliation and coexistence. Currently, the reason why Indigenous Peoples’ rights cannot be implemented in many perspectives and there are many false policies made is that the major society failed to understand Indigenous Peoples’ worldviews, cultures and customs. Therefore, Indigenous Peoples, State government and the whole society shall all devote themselves into mutual dialogue and understanding.
Last but not least, we have to make a solemn appeal that the substantive implementation of Indigenous Peoples’ rights shall not be treated as the political achievement of a certain political party or any politician, neither as merely a task to be done carelessly like daily or routine chores by the administrative bureaucracy, nor as the bargaining chip used by political parties to battle, attack and defense against each other. The government shall be more open-minded and patient to carefully start the dialogue with Indigenous Peoples.
The joint statement of the four Indigenous Peoples’ Organization will end here. We are looking forward to the further dialogue and direct communication with the members of Review Committee, as well as the government representatives in the following days’ review sessions. Thank you very much.