Head of state: Ma Ying-jeou (replaced Chen Shui-bian in May)
Head of government: Liu Chao-shiuan (replaced Chang Chun-hsiung in May)
Death penalty: retentionist

At least eight people were sentenced to death but no executions took place. Restrictive laws continued to be used to limit freedom of expression and assembly. The recently revised Domestic Violence Prevention Act was not effectively implemented.

Death penalty

At least eight people were sentenced to death and an estimated 82 people remained on death row at the end of the year. No executions had been carried out since 26 December 2005.

In June, responding to a campaign for abolition, the President stressed the importance of public consensus and quoted a survey showing high levels of public support for the death penalty. On 9 August, the new Minister of Justice announced her intention to move towards abolition. A day later some ruling party legislators stated that they opposed the abolition of the death penalty as it acted as a deterrent.

Freedom of expression and assembly

In November, police barred entry to areas along the route of a quasi-official Chinese delegation to protesters carrying the Taiwanese flag, the Tibetan flag, or displaying anti-China slogans.

Following the delegation's visit, students staged a month of sit-ins across the country demanding an amendment to the Assembly and Parade Law which had been used by police to deny freedom of assembly. In December, the government proposed removing the requirement for prior police approval of demonstrations but maintained prior police notice and police powers to alter planned demonstration on national security and public interest grounds.

Violence against women and girls

The strengthened Domestic Violence Prevention Act failed to provide adequate protection for victims due to poor implementation. In June, a High Court judge revealed that it could take days to issue an emergency protection order, much longer than the four-hour limit required by law. Women's groups continued to criticize judges for lacking gender awareness.

Women continued to be trafficked into Taiwan. In November, the cabinet approved a draft Anti-Human Trafficking Law.

In November, the legislature passed a resolution calling on the Japanese government to apologize and issue reparations to the survivors of Japan's military sexual slavery system during the Second World War.

Refugees and asylum-seekers

Human rights organizations continued to campaign for enactment of legislation protecting refugees and a draft bill was being reviewed by the legislature.

Amnesty International reports

  • Taiwan: Police should avoid using excessive force at upcoming protests (3 December 2008)

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